Ease Back into School

I say it every year.

I’m going to have my children continue reading at least a few nights a week in the summer.

Two weeks before school starts, I’m going to get them back on a good bedtime schedule.

My oldest just started the 5th grade, so I’ve had plenty of time to get it right. Yet, year after year, I fail. See, I am also a high school teacher, so despite dabbling in magazine writing and occasional yearbook workdays, I enjoy having my summers off, too. (P.S. It is not why I got into teaching.) So, as summer rolls around, I appreciate the importance of consistency. Such as consistently sleeping in a little later, consistently lounging around the house and drinking coffee, and consistently lying by the pool. So, once again, my plans of being the model mom and drilling multiplication tables went out the window. But, the good news is, it’s not too late. The kids will eventually get used to getting up early again, and despite contrary belief, they don’t forget everything they learned in two and half months. So, now is the time to get a grip, get on track and instill a few simple tips to a happy life of consistency. Change and spontaneity are great…but not for everything.

  • Have a set bed time and stick to it—This can be a little tricky, especially if you have kids who play sports. The older the get, the later the practices get, which can really put a damper on a 7:30 bedtime. (Joking…but wouldn’t it be nice on occasion. And not just for the kids).  So my suggestion would be a bed time range. Go into it knowing that it might not happen on the nose every day. And, don’t listen to your kids when they say so and so gets to stay up until 10:00. You know your kids and how much sleep they need.
  • Lay out their clothes the night before. Including socks. My stepdaughter’s socks somehow vanish, partly due to a sock-obsessed mutt, and I can’t tell you the number of mornings we’ve been on the hunt.
  • Have them eat breakfast. You know what studies show. Whether at school or at home, it’s important that they eat. My kids ate breakfast at school for their first couple of years until finally they began asking to eat at home. I thought it would take way too long, but really, if anything, it encourages them to get on up. And it makes me feel better, even if it is Fruit Loops or Cookie Crisp…they are made with whole grains, you know.
  • When the kids get home from school or when you get home from work, check and see how much homework they have up front. They might not need to do it first thing, depending on when your child comes home, but check out the situation. I consider my son to be pretty mature and responsible for his age, yet he is not a fan of homework. How many times I have heard, “I would love school if it started at noon and there was no homework.” So, on several occasions Luke would say, “I only have a little math,” and come to find out that little bit of math that seemed little to him was on a new topic that he was struggling with and hence took us over an hour and messed up step one—bedtime. Kids often have a hard time judging just how long something will take.
  • Have a set location for doing homework. And here’s the teacher coming out in me…two musts: have them cut the TV off and have them sit at a table or desk. It is easier to stay organized and stay focused when at a table. A snuggly couch sucks you in and says relax time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen asleep on the couch grading papers. If it has to get done, I make sure to sit at the table myself.
  • Keep everything in one spot. We have a drawer full of pencils and erasers so we are never scrambling. Also, keeping their book bags, school shoes, jackets, etc. in a universal spot can really help in the morning. Especially if you’re a working mom like me.
  • Make sure they run around a bit after school. Depending on the child, this might work better before or after homework, but they need to release the energy built up from sitting in school all day. Recess is really not that long.
  • Lastly, hug them, kiss them and read to them before heading back to step one. Kids are never too old to be read to. Yes, it’s great for them to read silently or even to you, but reading to your kids is just as important—no matter the age. Find books that they are interested in, but might be a little above their level and read a chapter a night. Take turns reading pages. Yes, you may have guessed it, I’m an English teacher. My son’s not a huge fan of reading, while my stepdaughter loves books, but even Luke normally won’t turn down being read to, especially if it’s something he picked out or is interested in.

So there you have it, a few tips from an imperfect mother/teacher. And by the way, I’m not condoning turning your kids into video-game game controlled couch potatoes over the summer, I’m simply saying, don’t worry if the end of August arrived before you remembered to pull out those review materials. After-all, I might not have filled my kids’ minds with facts over the summer, but hopefully I helped fill their minds with memories. Memories of another wet adventure on our favorite ride, The Log Flume, at Myrtle Beach. Luke playing on his first All-Star baseball team. Gabrielle taking her first leap off the high dive. Red Sox games, family cookouts, strolls through Downtown Roanoke, ice cream outings.

2×2=4…we have that one down…and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!


Growing Up in the Valley is Roanoke's very first family focused magazine. We are the premier source for family fun in Southwest & Central Virginia!
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