What’s that I hear? Is it the squeak squeak squeak of a pencil sharpener? Or is those brand new shoes scuffing down the hallway?
Either way, the end of summer is just about here. Which means that it’s time to send the kids back to school. (Don’t cheer too loudly.)
Whether you are returning to the same school or starting fresh post-PCS, it’s time to switch gears and get ready to get back to work. These back-to-school hacks and tips can make your summer to learning transition way easier!
Things MilFams Should Do To Start The School Year Right
Pencils! You’ve got pencils for days. Except they’re not THE pencils. I’m talking Ticonderoga. These babies are the gold standard for school teachers everywhere. Grab a few packs, or a whole case, of those yellow beauties. Your child’s teacher will love you right from the start!
Remember all that stuff that the kids brought home in June? Drag it all back out. Then sort and pile. If it’s unused or lightly used, save it for this year. It’s if more than half used, keep it at home as scratch paper or extra supplies. If it’s destroyed or completely used, through it away. You’ve probably been able to salvage a few notebooks, some pencils, and a bunch of art supplies. Your shopping list just got shorter!
Do you know what my spouse has in spades? Gear. He’s got more things to write with, stuff to write on, and places to keep supplies than I can shake a stick at. Dig up some gear from a few moves ago and reuse it. That old hygiene bag? It’s the perfect place to keep your child’s pencils, pens, and art supplies. The barely used backpack he needed to keep his spare clothes in at work? It now belongs to Junior!
4. Make a calendar
However your family keeps track of life, go get it or open it. With the master calendar from the school or district, start to pencil in important dates. Include things like:
- Physicals, vaccinations, and health paperwork due dates
- Sports, clubs, and activity sign-ups
- Vacations and holidays
- Teacher work days
- Report cards and progress reports
- Parent-Teacher Conference windows
5. Double check with the registrar
You’ve absolutely handled enrollment, but it pays to double check. Send a quick email or pick up the phone. Ask to come in and make sure that everything is all set and transferred over. This is important in high school when graduation is on the line! It’s also vital to do this is your child is in gifted or special education. Making sure the education team is on the same page will set the tone from day one.
6. Go SLO
Every single military base has at least one School Liaison Officer (SLO). Contact their office to help with school stuff like finding out which district you’re zoned for or working to transfer IEPs and courses. The SLO is a free resource and is ready to work for you!
7. Price check
Every weekend, grab the fliers from all the local big box stores, office supply stores, and the exchange. With your school supply list in hand, find the things you need and compare prices across all the sales fliers. When you find the cheapest price on the same exact item, bring the flier to the exchange. They price match. Plus, there’s no tax on base. Win-win!
8. Make a homework toolkit
Even if you have a teeny tiny house, your kids need a homework zone. Use a clipboard and a sectioned meal prep container to set up a mobile work space. Put all their tools and supplies, like pencils, pens, a mini stapler, and erasers, into the meal prep box. Let them decorate their clipboard. Then store everything on one shelf or in a bin. When it’s homework time, they can grab and go to work anywhere they want.
9. Get in touch
One of the best things a parent ever did was send me an email on the first day of school. There wan’t a question in there about her own child. It was just a quick note to say how excited their family was to be in my classroom, that she hoped the day was going well, and that she wanted to volunteer in the school. Even if you can’t volunteer, sending a quick positive email to the teacher sets the right tone for the school year.
10. Call for backup
Everyone needs a little help, and school situations are no different. The K-12 world is changing almost by the minute and it’s super hard to keep up. Even teachers who live it every day feel out of the loop! So if your child is struggling in school, find a tutor. If you need help handling an IEP, find an advocate. Want to ace Parent-Teacher Conferences? Get yourself an education coach! Chances are great that there is a military spouse who can handle all of these challenges.
Look, no child shows up to school with 100% of everything they need or want. Someone is always short a few notebooks. Another kid is rocking a backpack from two grades ago. It’s not going to be perfect, and that’s 100% okay. Do the best you can with what you have. The rest will sort itself out eventually.
Now, put those kids on the bus and relax. You’ve got to make it through until June.
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