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How to prepare for the new school year

by SHARON KENNEDY WYNNE Tampa Bay Times on August 17, 2013 11:00 AM

Before you know it, you’ll be back in the thick of it: carpools, homework, permission slips, dress codes, passwords.

You know the scene. Be ready this year by starting off with some good habits. And you can start right now.

Get to sleep

Now is the time to start getting your kids into sleep shape for school. Studies have shown that children who get eight to 11 hours of sleep are more likely to earn higher grades.

The best method is to do it gradually, especially if you’ve been on an up-all-night, loll-around-all-day pattern this summer.

You can start now by gradually moving bedtimes and wake-up times earlier (about 15 minutes every other day) until you are to the point where kids will be able to wake up in time once school starts.

Plan your routine now

I call it doing my homework while the kids do theirs.

While they are doing algebra and studying spelling words, I go through backpacks and sign what needs signing, send in money for field trips or note meetings in my calendar.

It’s also a good time to log on to the school’s website and see if there are any announcements and to check grades.

Resolve not to put permission slips and other pieces of paper into a “to do” pile that invariably doesn’t get done.

Do it right then and get it out of the way before you forget.

Have a “launch pad”

Pick a chair or a place by the door where backpacks, lunchboxes and sports gear will go.

This isn’t a bad habit for summer camps, either, so consider it practice.

The night before

Pledge to spend just 15 minutes a night devoted to getting organized for the next day — laying out clothes, getting lunch ready and loading up bags for work, day care and school.

Homework buddies

Help your child create a list with the names and phone numbers of classmates to be each other’s backup when homework is forgotten or your child didn’t get the assignment written down or just wants to collaborate with classmate on a tough assignment.

Get yourself a notebook

Start off the school year with a binder of your own for all the school papers, fliers, website passwords and carpool information. You could have one large one or create a notebook for each child. Or an expanding file folder can help keep things sorted.

Backup books

Consider buying copies of your child’s heavier textbooks to keep at home so they don’t have to be lugged back and forth, or buying a frequently used workbook that often gets forgotten.

Pledge to do less

Yes, you read that right. Do less. Teach the kids how to make their own lunch, sell their own fundraisers, check their own computer portal to make sure the teacher recorded their grade correctly.

The outfit they want to wear is wrinkled? Learn to iron, kiddo — or use a bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser spray.

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