As parents and guardians get close to sending kids back to school, The Lakelander is wishing you and your kids a successful school year. Ms. Kathleen Hawley shares a few ways you can prepare your kids for their first day of school.

Kathleen Hawley

Kathleen Hawley is a longtime Lakelander and graduate of Southeastern University. She is a language-arts teacher at Crystal Lake Middle School.

The week before school starts can go one of two ways: you are either running around like a chicken with its head cut off on Black Friday, or you are the cool, calm, collected parent whose kids’ backpacks are probably already organized and packed for their first day. Either way, this can be a stressful time for parents, kids, and even their teachers, so here are three simple yet effective ways to make the transition smooth and enjoyable for everyone involved.

  • Consistent sleep routine – Practice makes perfect! When it comes to a nighttime routine, and just sleep in general, we have a tendency of putting it on the  back burner because there are so many other tasks that need to be checked off our to-do list before we tuck in for the night. Still, sleep should be at the top of this list if we want our students to be successful throughout the school year. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best,” while younger school-age children should get approximately 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Start easing your child into a sleep routine before the first day of school so they are prepared for success! Sticking to a consistent schedule throughout the year and getting the proper amount of sleep can help prevent changes in mood, depressive feelings, and failing grades, all of which can have a lasting impact on young people. Not only will this alleviate unnecessary stress, but it will improve their overall wellbeing and productivity in the classroom.
  • School supplies – I realize that the thought of shopping for school supplies at stores like Target, Walmart, etc. can seem daunting, and quite frankly, it is for most parents and children. Especially when everyone has chosen to flood the stores on the same exact
    day and it feels like an episode of Supermarket Sweep on aisle 17 where you are trying to get the last of the Star Wars notebooks for Jamie and Billy otherwise their whole year will be completely ruined before it even started. However, several stores now offer copies of supply lists from the schools in the area (check the school supply section of Target on Harden Blvd.) which is more convenient than making a trip to your child’s school and can take the stress away of figuring out what exactly your teachers will require this year. Taking the time to make this process enjoyable for your children can start their year on a positive note and set the tone for the rest of the year. Picking out a notebook or folder may seem overwhelming, because in a way, it represents them and their personality, and this is their one chance to put their best foot forward. I remember school supply shopping being my favorite part of back-to-school week and my parents really appreciated Tax Free Weekend (August 2nd – 6th ), so it became a positive experience for everyone.
  • Ease the stress of the unknown – As a teacher, I love nothing more than meeting my students for the first time before the start of a new year. There is something about wide-eyed young people walking through the classroom doors with their parents that makes it feel like Christmas morning! I realize that beginning a new school year can seem downright terrifying for most kids, especially if it involves a new school or just moving from elementary to middle school. So, the most practical way to ease any stress or anxiety is to take away any of the “unknowns” that come with back-to-school week. Orientation affords students and parents with the opportunity to take a tour of the campus, meet teachers and fellow classmates, and gather any additional information from school personnel before day one. The first day of school should be exciting for each and every student, and easing any and all stress or anxiety can create the foundation for their best year ever!

We all want to be sure that our kids will have a successful year, and sometimes all that means is adding a little bit of encouragement, responsibility, and rest to their schedule ahead of time. So, what are some ways you have helped prepare your child for the new school year?