Thursday, August 10, 2017

Dear Sugar: 5 Ways to Prepare Little Ones for Back-to-School (Diverse Resources Included)

Dear Sugar:
It's that time of year.  School supply aisles are packed with moms acting like it's Black Friday. They've got their venti iced coffee in one hand, a mile-long list in the other, while they push the cart with their midsection.  Their eyes?  Bloodshot.  This is serious.

Back-to-school is a time many of us moms have a love-hate relationship with.  We get all soft, feeling sad that our "babies" are going to be getting on buses and spending their days with someone who is not us.  On the other hand, the sibling wars, the "sharking" (yep, that's a verb) around the pantry for snack #26 of the day (and it's only 10:15 a.m.), and heat waves---we are just DONE.  OVER IT.

Going back to school can be especially hard on younger kids.  An abrupt and extreme change in their routine, meeting a stranger who is now the authority (teacher), making new friends (hopefully), and all the transitions (bus, classroom, cafeteria, gym) can be overwhelming and exhausting.

And it's hard on us mamas, too.  My kids all start school at the same time (this year at THREE different schools), but they arrive home at different times.   And then there's the after school meltdown...which I really do not want to even think about right now, so let's move on.

This isn't my first rodeo, so here are my tried-and-true tips to help you and your littles ease back into the school year:

1:  Get diverse toys and books.

Two weeks before school starts, I gather up books from our home library to read to the kids.  This helps them get into the school-year mindset.   Each of these feature diverse characters, reflective of my children's schools.   (Click on the book image to learn more.)

2:  Play school.

Oh my goodness, do kids love to "play school."  Take turns being the teacher, do workbooks and art projects, and just have fun.  You can also pull out toys, such as the Melissa and Doug or Little People school bus sets.  We also love the eeBoo Create a Story cards:  the back-to-school version.

3:  Get the gear.

Shop for a first day of school shirt (online; because no one is going to the store right now).  Buy new lunch boxes.  (We do NOT buy new backpacks every year---too expensive!  But we do get one new piece of "gear" each year.)  This year Pottery Barn Kids is offering some diverse character school gear products (yeah!) that we're loving such as the ballerina lunch box, mermaid lunch box, Peanuts lunch box, and the Disney princess lunch box (Tiana included!).

4:  Create a countdown calendar.

Create a calendar two weeks before school starts.  Have the kids alternate putting stickers on the days as they pass by.   A visual reminder is helpful for kids (and mamas!).   The dollar store often has diverse character stickers.  

5:  Plan an after-school routine together.

After school is a REALLY hard time for us.  Talk to your kids about what helps them relax and refresh.  For us, we have a snack ready for the kids as soon as they walk in the door from school. And when I say snack, it's really first-dinner.  My kids are so hungry after school.  Make sure the snack is balanced (protein, carbs-including lots of fiber, and healthy fat) and has different textures (crunchy, smooth, soft) which helps meet sensory needs.    Great options include an apple with peanut butter and a Greek yogurt tube, a small sandwich and a piece of crunchy fruit, a homemade smoothie (sipped through a straw) and whole grain dry cereal or veggie chips.   Additionally, after snack we go outside (if possible) where the kids pick an activity.  My oldest prefers to sit and read or create art with sidewalk chalk, while my middle two kids (who are more active) enjoy riding bikes, playing catch, or playing with the hose.   If we have to be indoors, I let the kids play a dance or sports game on the XBOX or play downstairs (we have plasma cars).    It isn't unheard of for my kids to be in their PJS right after dinner.  Sometimes changing clothes just makes a person feel better!

How do you prepare your kids for heading back to school?  Let's chat on Facebook!  

-This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

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