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Getting ready for the new school year

August 2012

Ready or not, the start of a fresh school year is here again. Before the bell rings, check out tips on how to make back to school shopping as easy and cost effective as possible. And since back-to-school shopping is only one component of the new school year, check out our other ideas for helping to get the new year off on the right foot!

Starting a new routine

Organization at home will help make a smooth transition to school. Having a place for everything and everything in its place will make the mornings less stressful and provide a sense of calm and serenity to help ease the first day of school jitters. Preparing the house can be a fun and creative time you can share with your child(ren) as you set up a space for backpacks, school papers, lunches and homework.

Most schools offer ice cream socials or back-to-school open houses anywhere from a few days to a week or so before school starts, so make plans to go. Class lists are often posted on that day and it's exciting to help your child find out whom their teacher is going to be. Getting to know your child's school and teacher will help make the transition easier for both of you, especially if it's a new school. This is especially important for quieter children, who might be reticent to ask for help. Assure your child that the adults at school are there to help if they need it.

Tip: drop off your child's supplies when you go to meet their teacher.

Buying school supplies, clothes, getting things organized at home and visiting your child's school and teacher will probably go a long way toward getting your child excited for school. You can also consider incorporating some special traditions to look forward to each year such as: a special breakfast, a new outfit, or a picture taken on the first day of school in the same spot to see how the child has grown since last year.

Once you have your child's list for back-to-school shopping, take inventory of what you already have. You may already have scissors, pencils, binders, unused notebooks, erasers, and glue. It can be helpful to set a budget, and watch for sales. It's often easiest to spread the shopping out over several days or weeks.

Tip: take reusable bags with you to the store and sort the items for each child into different bags as you check out.

Local resources for back-to-school supplies, clothes & more

Big box stores such as Target, Meijer and Walmart are standard places to shop for school supplies, but also try office supply stores such as OfficeMax and Staples. Watch for newspaper and online coupons. Consider stocking up on sale items and donating them to organizations serving needy kids (donation boxes can often be found in stores and libraries).

For school clothes, Children's Place, TJ Maxx, Target, Justice and resale shops are all popular. For the teen crowd, Macy's, Old Navy, Hollister and other teen stores top the list. Teenage girls might also enjoy shopping vintage stores for something different than the standard mall fare. Aside from some new warm weather clothes for the start of the year, many parents don't buy a lot of clothes right up front since fall and winter clothes won't be needed yet.

On the home front, The Container Store is an organization haven. Check it out for boxes, bins and other tools to help your household run smoothly.

Summer has flown by, as it always does, so enjoy it while it lasts. Take a little time to plan some fun things in the days leading up to when school starts. How about visiting a favorite park, lake, pool, nature trail, museum, baseball game, going out for ice cream, or having a picnic in a favorite spot? Establishing some 'end of summer' rituals and savoring the space between summer and school gives everyone time to enjoy each other. And since summer doesn't officially end til September, keep on making the most of it on the weekends for as long as you can.

Tips from local moms on how to prepare:

"I have the kids' new workspace ready and that's helped them get excited about the new school year. I don't need to do much more—they'll be thrilled to get back to school to see their friends. I'll make very special lunches for the first couple of days.

I have white [dry erase] boards for daily schedules and chore lists, and the kids move their magnets to the 'done' column when an item is completed. I think organization is essential, it's important for the children to know what's expected of them every day. We sometimes forget that children have a more fluid concept of time, and some kind of visual reference helps them navigate through their days."

-Michelle M., Fishers, mother of an 8 & 6 year old

"I get mailer, newspaper and online coupons for JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby and Hancock Fabrics. They usually have cuter and more unusual school supplies.

My teenager wears a uniform four days a week so we look throughout the year for polos and khakis. It's a lot harder to buy a short-sleeve polo after September so we buy early! I send her moneyless to the mall to pre-shop with her friends and take her back later after she's had time to think about what she wants.

We also buy things on super sale, and then put them in the box for needy kids. Places like Coburn Place, Dayspring and The Julian Center need supplies the whole year."

-Mindi B., Noblesville, mother of a 15 & 3 year old

Tags: Education, In This Issue

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