School Daze

School Daze

It’s back to school time and at our house that means a heightened level of semi-controlled chaos. The last languid days of summer are treasured, hour-by-hour, like precious sips of cool water on a blazing hot afternoon, until they are gone, and we stand staring at the first harried day of school bringing an abrupt ending to our idyllic season of rest.

As the chaos begins to take hold in the form of a frantic morning rush, nerves are frayed and patience is short. We brace ourselves for the first Monday morning, when unaccustomed to 6:00am breakfasts and 6:50am bus rides, the day’s beginning takes on a whole new attitude. There are backpacks to check, lunches to pack, checklists and school supplies to assemble and of course, first day of school anxieties to overcome. All this just to get a 7-year old to school on time? Add two working adults trying to get out the door and you can see the potential for disaster.

Ha, you say. That’s nothing. Try it with 2, 3 or more kids!

You’re right. I don’t know how some Moms do it. We have it easy with our smaller family unit, yet the transition from summer back to school is still a struggle. Last year, I recall some tears, a missed bus and a breakfast experience not unlike what enlisted men might experience as the morning “hash’ is flung at them in an Army mess tent while a drill sergeant barks out the day’s orders.

This year, I am committed to trying something different — more relaxed approach to back-to-school. So here are tips I found to help us get off to a positive start. They may be helpful for you, too:

1. Get them excited. Let the kids help pick out a new notebook or backpack. If they are part of the process in picking this year’s school supplies they will be more excited about using them. For ideas, look for “Cool School Tools” on page 20.
2. Plan ahead. Read the info from your child’s school – probably sent to you over the summer by a principal or teacher – and prepare all the paperwork a week early. Then pack the backpack the night before with first day paperwork and essentials. Check the school Web site for recommended supplies by grade. Make sure clothes are neat, clean and ready to go.
3. Get to bed early. This goes for the entire family. That first day of school can be packed with emotion, especially for the younger ones. A good night’s sleep will help everyone prepare for an exciting start.
4. Eat a good breakfast. Try fruit, yogurt and whole grain toast or cereal that will give your young student the energy to power through the first day. (See page 70 for more healthy ideas.)

Finally, when you sigh that breath of relief as they get on the bus or walk through the school doors, vow to get involved this year. Build a relationship with your child’s teacher and principal. Introduce yourself via e-mail or a written note. Simply making the effort to connect with your child’s teacher will demonstrate your commitment. Join the PTA. Express interest in homework and pride in artwork and academic achievements. Kids do better in school when parents stay involved.

I’ll keep you posted on our first day success.


P.S. Got a story to tell about your worst first day of school experience? Send it to me at We’ll publish the best stories online.