Summer 2 School

Top tips from Suwanee supermoms and local educators for making a smooth transition to school this year…

Our summer schedules are packed full of: lazy mornings, picnics in the park, vacations to the beach, backyard BBQs, pool parties, days on the lake, family bike rides, ice cream, and nonstop, outdoor fun.

So, it can be a real challenge when August rolls around and it’s time to switch gears: back-to-school. Most kids are now used to waking up at 9:00 instead of 6:30, going to bed at 10:00 instead of 8:00, playing outside instead of sitting in class, wearing swim trunks instead of polo shirts, grabbing their own food from the kitchen instead of having to eat whatever was packed for them, choosing their daily activities instead of being assigned homework.

Switching gears without any preparation can be a shock to the system and will definitely result in more chaos and stress in the home and classroom. That’s why we asked Suwanee “supermoms” and local teachers to share their best tips for making this “Summer 2 School” transition as smooth as possible. The verdict: don’t procrastinate; there are a few simple steps you can start NOW to make life easier come August 10th.

Erica and Chad Mentzer with Brayden (7), Audrey (5) and Presley (3).
Erica and Chad Mentzer with Brayden (7),
Audrey (5) and Presley (3).

Supermom, Erica Mentzer shared how she and her husband, Chad, prepare their three children for the school year ahead:

Keep them healthy and happy

Summertime for us is sun, fun and trying new foods! My kids love having the choice of picking a healthy food options when we take our weekly family trip to the grocery store. I have found that if I let them choose the food, they will be more willing to try it. We all strive to fuel our kid’s bodies with healthy food and this summer strategy makes packing lunches during the school year easier. It also puts the parents’ minds at ease because you feel good about what is in your child’s lunch box and know that they are getting the essential nutrients for brain development and energy requirements. 

 Repeat, repeat, repeat

Kids thrive on routine. Two weeks before school begins I start implementing our “back to school” routine. This usually includes scheduled meals, earlier bed times and earlier rise-and-shines! This tip is guaranteed to kick off your school year with less stress.

Out with the old, in with the new

Every year before school starts I clean out my kids’ closets. I donate or consign the things that are too small and make room for their new bigger clothes. Sure beats trying to find matching socks on day one of the school year!

Keep their minds sharp

Our kids are in great shape when it comes to learning during the school year, and it’s our responsibility to keep them conditioned throughout the summer. My kiddos complete age appropriate workbooks and read every night to help prepare them for the next school year.  Everything in life is a balancing act and summer is meant to be fun, but by adding a little work here and there, you are sure to keep their neurons firing.

Mike and Joy Lyle with Ansley (14), Matthew (13) and Davis (10).
Mike and Joy Lyle with Ansley (14), Matthew (13) and Davis (10).

Joy Lyle, Administrative Assistant from Shadowbrook Baptist Weekday School has tips for the first day of school:

Don’t splurge on “fall clothes”

Don’t spend a lot of money on “fall clothes” before school starts in August!  Remember, it’s still hot and most kids are wearing shorts until October.

Document with photos

Make sure to take pictures notating the first day of school so that you can compare them to the last day of school and see how much they have grown and changed. 

Use the carpool drop-off line

For preschool/young children, if your school offers a car pool drop-off line, use it. It will make your child’s transition smooth everyday, establishes a routine, and will save you lots of time. They will quickly learn how much the teachers love them and enjoy getting them out of the car to go to their class.

IMG_0589Riverside Elementary Teacher of the Year 2013, Lynne Franks, gives tips on how to set your child up for a successful school year:

Be positive about school

Speak positively about your child’s new friends and teacher! Tell them about the fun experiences you had at school and let them know they are going to have a great year. 

Support their teachers

Parents supporting their child’s teacher is the single most important way to get your child off to a great start! When parents are supportive and positive about their child’s school and teachers, it tells their child that school is important and that their teachers need to be respected! 

Get organized

Help your child get organized for the new school year. Buy folders, paper, pencils and other supplies together, then let them label them and take part in getting geared up for their new year.

Get excited

Show your child the things they will be learning this year. Search the school’s website with your child, and let them look at some of the things highlighted about the school.   This will build excitement about their new year and the learning they will experience. 

Tiffany Belflower with daughter Ava (9).
Tiffany Belflower with daughter Ava (9).

Supermom Tiffany Belflower, PTA President at Riverside Elementary gives insight into their summer preparations for back to school:

It is hard to take the leap from summer playtime to the classroom without some preparation. In my household we have gradually implemented certain ideas that help make the transition easier for my daughter. Everyone’s child is different. In my house, it is all about routine. If I can get my daughter on a set routine our first week of school, it is fun and exciting…

We start backing both her bedtime and her alarm clock up 15 minutes at a time.

This process starts two weeks before the first day of school. By the time that day arrives she is back to her normal bedtime and getting up easily when her alarm clock goes off at 6:45 AM.

Have her read and do math worksheets throughout the course of the summer.

This helps to keep her brain actively thinking about something besides swimming pools and games.

When the first day of school is two weeks away, I gradually switch her eating habits.

All of her meals and snacks are served at the same time that they will be during the school year. This eliminates the tired and grumpy stages brought forth by hunger that sometimes occur the first few weeks of school.

Tony and Annie Valenty with Nate (9), Katie (13), and Emma (11).
Tony and Annie Valenty with Nate (9), Katie (13), and Emma (11).

Annie Valenty , Community Outreach Coordinator at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and Suwanee Supermom, shared tips from the CHOA Strong4Life Wellness team:

The transition from summer back to school days is not easy in our home. As a family, we enjoy the later evenings and are never eager to jump back into a school routine. I have found over the years, starting the transition a few weeks before school begins is so much better for my kids and my family overall. Our Strong4Life Wellness team with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta have identified several ways to help ease your family back into the rhythm of school, focusing on both adequate sleep and fun nutritional lunches that make those early mornings just a bit easier on all of us.

Ease into a modified summer schedule now

If your kids are lacking sleep structure this summer, now’s the perfect time to create a schedule. “Kids need a schedule all the time, not just during the school year,” says CHOA’s Dr. Walsh, Pediatrician and mom of three boys. Walsh says kids need at least two weeks to become reaccustomed to waking up early- and the earlier you start, the easier the transition.

Develop a relaxing nighttime routine

What’s the best way to wake up on the right side of the bed? Start the night before! Whether it’s a bath, reading a book, or listening to soothing music, every child has things to help them relax before going to sleep.

Power off

The hour before bed should be a no-electronics zone. Studies show the light from backlit electronics (like tablets, smartphones, and video games) can disrupt our ability to fall—and stay—asleep. Designate a spot in your home for electronics to be plugged in, and have your kids start their bedtime routine by plugging in one hour before lights out!

Get up and get outside

The best way to shake off summer slumber is to get some sunshine! So on those first days of your new routine, have the kids start their day by watering the flowers, walking the dog or having a healthy breakfast on the patio—anything that exposes them to daylight first thing.

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