It’s mid July in Memphis and we are all knee deep into summer camps, beach vacations and church retreats. Long lazy summer days, spent hanging by the pool or splash park leads to riding bikes in the cove and ends with a spontaneous trip to your favorite frozen treat place.
Then, all of a sudden, an innocent quick check into Target brings the free spirit and innocence of summer to a screeching halt. Browsing aisles, leisurely wandering your way through the clothing and new household knickknacks--then you see it. Right there in between groceries and luggage. They are already stocking school supplies. UGH!!
And you melt into a puddle in the middle of the aisle. Since when did the week after Independence Day become the beginning of Back-to-School Season?! I mean, let’s give Summer its time on the stage. I’m not ready!
I’m not ready for alarm clocks and uniform laundry mountains dotting the landscape of my home. I’m not ready for homework-filled evenings and smart breakfast choices. I’m not ready for car lines, permission slips, orientation nights, or field trips. It’s still Summer! I won’t do it. I protest!
Wait? Shelby County schools start that soon? Crap! Protest over…
If this is your first Back-to-School experience, you may have been planning the big “first day” for weeks or even months. Or maybe you’re still on the fence about starting or delaying school for another year? If you are undecided, please read my earlier post here about Kindergarten Readiness. It’s a real thing. From my personal experience, Kindergarten preparedness is extremely important for a parent to be aware of.
Since we have to start thinking, here is a handy and hopefully fun countdown chart list make Back-to-School easier for you first timers.
15 Days of Back-to-School Countdown
Day 15: Do your research – If you’re new to Memphis or just new to school in general, this is a great resource to familiarize yourself with school zones, calendars, school choices and basic info on how to enroll. Memphis School Guide is a wonderful source!
Day 14: Get your supplies - Go ahead and download the school supply lists and get a jump start on the shopping. FYI most schools offer pre-packed supply boxes. For convenience sake, they aren’t a bad deal. I like to shop myself and double up on some of the items, knowing that during the year, I’ll be asked to send in more. Plus you’re going to need some for home too. Here is a great online resource for finding your school supplies!
Day 13: Visit the school - take a picnic lunch up to the school playground and have some playtime. Talk about what they are to expect at school; new friends, busy lunchrooms, intercom announcements, fire drills (scary), and recess (fun).
Day 12: Meet some new friends – Get on Nextdoor.com or some other neighborhood app and ask to meet up with other first time kids in the neighborhood for a play date. Trust me, knowing a friendly face or two the first day makes a world of difference.
Day 11: Pick out a homework spot – Yes, even in kindergarten, there will be homework. You will need a quiet and distraction free place to review the days work and complete homework assignments. Kindergarten homework will average around 15-30 minutes a day. Find a consistent quiet place to do homework.
Day 10: Download printable lunchbox notes – Load up your Pinterest board with free downloadable lunchbox printables. Here are a few of my favorites: Lunchbox Love Notes and Superhero Printables. They make lunchtime special and encouraging.
Day 9: Get the clothes organized – After the first few weeks of fighting about what to wear every morning, we came up with a way to set out a whole week worth of school clothes on Sunday night. We have stackable cubes in the closet that holds 7 days of clothing and or sports practice or team uniform needs for a week. Even with uniforms, this is necessary for us to have a smooth drama free morning routine.
Day 8: Figure out the transportation – School systems love their acronyms. One you really need to know is the “PRZ” or “Parent Responsibility Zone.” This is a 1.5 mile radius around the school where you are responsible for transportation to and from the campus. Buses typically do not pick up students inside the “PRZ.”
Day 7: Start thinking about after school care – Most public schools do not have onsite before or after school care. There should be a list of daycare centers available at registration that will bus students at car line to a separate facility for aftercare. I would highly recommend visiting the facilities on the list first with your child. Spots fill up fast!
Day 6: Get to know the "Treasure Box"- You will be asked on a regular basis to contribute to the class “treasure box.” This is exactly what it sounds like: a box filled with sugar and trinkets to promote good choices. It cannot be avoided.
Day 5: Plan the First Day photos – First day of school photo props are a great way to record these precious memories. Personally, we have some chalkboard signs that the kids hold up with their grade and date written on them. But I also love the t-shirt handprint idea here!
Day 4: Plan for the stuff that comes home – Stuff comes home weekly. Lots and lots of stuff. In the beginning, I kept everything. Every Pre-K scribble art and every note written about what they were thankful for. After time, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to keep it all. Creating photo books is a great alternative to saving all the notes and drawings. My oldest has received several awards and ribbons for his work. I bought 3 of these over-sized art portfolios and protective sleeves to store some of the things I want to keep long term. Other stuff will get photographed and stored digitally for now.
Day 3: Box Tops and Tabs – You will be asked to bring in these things: 1) Box Tops for Education and 2) Pop Top tabs. They are used to raise funds for the school and are a fun class project for the kids. Get ready to start collecting, y'all!
Day 2: Online resources for learning – there are several great free online resources to reinforce classroom learning. Go ahead and bookmark these for easy access: www.abcya.com, Spelling City and K12 Resource
Day 1: Get to know your “clips” – Most lower school teachers have a discipline system that resembles the “clip” system. This is a color-coded laundry clip for each child. The “clip” gets moved up and down a color chart daily depending on actions and choices. For example, talking on the carpet during reaching time = negative. Helping a friend pick up spilled Crayons = positive. Consequences can end in negatives which can mean reduced recess time, or positives which can mean trips to the treasure box.
First Day of School – Fix a special breakfast, snap that photo, say a prayer for a great day and send them off knowing that that you have done everything you can to make this the best day ever!