Every year ParentLife magazine tries to help families make the transition back to school. We know the blessings of summertime—no school, relaxed schedules, lots of playtime—can turn into nightmares when August rolls around. What are families in your church facing? How can you possibly get your kiddos (and yourself) back into the school routine? Check out this advice from former ParentLife Editor and full-time writer and mom, Christi McGuire.
Determine how much sleep children need (typically 10-12 hours), then work backward. If your child needs to be ready to leave for school at 8:00 a.m. and you know it takes him an hour to get ready, then he needs to get up at 7:00 a.m. So his bedtime should be between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m.
Now plan your sleeping schedule. When do you need to get up before your kids in order to be prepared for the day? Consider options like exercise and your own quiet time. Begin your new sleep schedule at least one week before school starts. It takes this long to get used to a new sleep and wake schedule.
Talk as a family about what routines best work for you. Consider the following:
- Complete homework after school and before dinner.
- Prepare backpacks, set out clothes, and make lunches the night before.
- Place shoes by the door.
- Take a bath, brush teeth, and read a book before bedtime.
- Eat breakfast while having family devotions.
Take stock of school supplies. Determine not only what you need for the teachers’ supply lists, but also what you need at home for kids to complete their homework. Set up a homework station that is in your view so you can monitor the use of computers and other electronics. Now is also a good time to organize closets and sort through clothes that are too small for your kids. Make a shopping list of what your kids need for the new school year. Some states have a tax-free weekend to shop.
Create a central location for your family calendar. What kind of calendar works best for you —a white board or paper calendar? Or if you are tech-savvy, use a calendar app to sync all events and reminders. Don’t forget to add school events, due dates for major projects, menus, practice schedules, church, holidays, birthdays, and other special days.
The beginning of a school year brings lots of paperwork, such as registration forms and immunization records. Gather all the information ahead of time. Organize this important information into a notebook or binder for each of your children and keep it in a safe but accessible place. Set up a filing system to keep the paper trail your children bring home—precious artwork, math tests, and creative stories
Review the school’s lunch menu and choose when kids can buy lunch or pack lunch.
Together, plan healthy lunches to pack. Also look at the family calendar to plan when you can have family dinners or when you might need to eat on the run due to sports practices and other events. As a family, plan out your meals for a month. Then duplicate that menu plan each month. Write out shopping lists for each week and make copies for future weeks.
Most importantly, dedicate time to having family devotions. Set aside a time to talk, to read the Bible, and to pray as a family. Parents are the primary influence on their children’s faith. Be intentionally involved in guiding your child through the school year.
William Summey is the Publishing Team Leader for ParentLife, kids devotionals, and short-term products. He is a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Vanderbilt University. William lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Christy, and two sons.