Multi-tasking items for your student
It can be the most wonderful time of the year -- as long as you're fully prepared.
After a summer of fun, remembering everything you need to get your kids ready for the new school year can take creative thinking and a lot of patience.
But with the stress of preparing the basics such as a backpack and stationary, it's easy to overlook the less obvious things that make life easier.
Mother of two Tracie Wagman, publisher of Help! We've Got Kids, an online resource of family-friendly services in multiple cities across Canada, knows how to get her kids off to a sleek start.
"There is lots to do," says Wagman. "I always check that clothes fit, and a haircut is one not everyone thinks about, but you may not have time to do it afterwards. There might be people with kids who need EpiPens and asthma medications who might want to double check -- have they expired?"
She also recommends updating emergency contacts. "They may have changed even from last year -- then there's before and after school childcare, that's easy to forget. You're worried about school and when it starts, but what is your kid going to do at 3:30 when they get out and you're working?"
Homework prep is important, adds Wagman. Kids don't like it, but activity books or prep classes could benefit academic achievement. Reorganize bedrooms to make space for homework, do a dry run of the route, let kids practise eating within a timeframe, and break lazy summer mornings by waking up early now.
For 9-year-old blogger Hannah Alper of Richmond Hill, Ont., her back to school shopping list has one aim - to be eco-friendly.
On her blog, callmehannah.ca, she visited Staples and listed eco-friendly items for people heading out to shop. However, her biggest tip is to reuse.
"People should look out for things they have already that they can reuse," says Hannah. "Reusing is even more important than recycling. Recycling is really expensive. The trucks, the factories, the machines that they use cost a lot of money and use a lot of energy "¦ Things that you can probably reuse are your backpack and lunch bag, binders, rulers, pencil sharpener, scissors, and pencil case."
Her favourite item is a sugarcane notebook. "After the sugar is used to make sugar, the waste of the sugarcane is made into pulp which is made into paper, and that helps save trees," she says.
With the first day of term creeping closer, this week is the perfect time to start, says Wagman.
"There's a lot of mixed emotions at this time. You might have had the summer off and had quality time with kids and been more relaxed, and it's nice, because everybody gets back into a routine again, but it's also stressful," says Wagman. "You want to make sure they have everything they need, and that they sign up for everything, but you don't have to get overwhelmed by it. If they go to school that first day and only have one pencil, that's all they need. You don't need to go crazy.
"Just make sure you have a list, and what you need to make it easier on yourself."
- Reuse to save waste.
- Buy multi-packs of stationary and share between kids.
- See if after-school programs are cheaper through the city.
- Buy reusable containers for lunches.
- Look for homework preparation online.
- Share childcare with another parent.
- Don't spend much on notebooks and binders - they're easily damaged, and might need replacing again.
- Look for gear at gently used kids clothing shops such as Once Upon A Child and check for used equipment at Play It Again Sports for equipment.
- Order labels with just your last name to share among the family.
- Do clothes/shoes/sports equipment fit? Are they labelled?
- Update emergency contacts.
- Arrange before-and-after-school childcare.
- Check medication expiration.
- Practise the early start.
- Do a dry run of the route.
- Practice eating within a time frame.
- Prepare a calendar and ask for a list of extra-curricular activities.
- Practice tying up laces, putting on new gear.
- Reorganize bedrooms to fit a homework area.
- Get a list of new classmates and organize play dates the week before term.