We all savor those last days of summer – the beaches, barbeques, picnics and family trips. But in the back of our minds, we all know that summer will soon come to an end. It’s back to school time. And nice as it would be to stretch out those last drops of summer fun, it’s also time to prepare the kids for a fresh start to their new school year.
US Family Health Plan -- a TRICARE Prime health option – loves the fact that summer is a time when families can enjoy time together. But we give equal weight to making sure kids have a great and productive school year. Here is our Get Ready for Back to School Checklist, the essential list of things parents need to know to help ensure your kids have the best possible start to the school year. After all, education is important!
- The Back to School Family Conference. Before reality completely sets in, it is a good idea to schedule an “all hands on deck” family meeting – Mom, Dad, and all the siblings. Invite Grandma and Grandpa too if you want. This is the time to snap everyone back to reality – in a nice way. Remind everyone that school starts in a few weeks, and it’s time to get ready. Highlight the enjoyable and exciting elements of going back to school – new clothes, new sneakers, new friends and new things to learn about. Create a viable timeline – when to shop, what school supplies to buy, and what the next year will be all about. Speak to each child separately about the grade they are about to enter and what opportunities and challenges they can expect.
- Score School Supplies Early. This is the time to shop for school supplies. Not the day before school starts. Budget for any big ticket items, like computers, you may need to get. Take advantage of some great back to school sales in mid-to-late August. By the time school starts, the sales will be over and supplies will be running low. Give your pocketbook a break and ensure your kids get what they need by shopping early. Remind them that you are in their corner.
- Plan back to school outfits. There’s that almighty “first day of school” outfit otherwise
known as the “dress to impress” outfit. Other BTS essentials may include a cool new back pack, sneakers, and comfortable, attractive outfits. No matter what, it’s a good idea to have at least the first five days of outfits planned out for each child. Hand me downs, if attractive, are quite all right. Just make sure your child is comfortable wearing them. Without going overboard, be sure to make sure each child is confident in their look. This can be a difference maker at school.
- Plan for success. Every grade in school, including college, holds its own special experience and appeal as your child marches through each stage of life. Make sure you take time to talk to your kids about what they can expect to experience in the upcoming school year. For instance, if they’re a senior in high school, it’s a good idea to talk about SAT tests, applying for college or joining the military, how and when to apply for financial aid, graduation and even plans for a prom. Helping them understand what these milestones entail can give them a great advantage, as some can be overwhelming.
- Set up proper study space. Make sure that each child has their own unique study space, equipped with everything they need to succeed. Check to make sure there is good lighting, the necessary tools, and safe electrical outlets. Also try to arrange a study space that is quiet so they can concentrate and read. Factor in a set time when at least one parent or older sibling is available to check homework to make sure its completed the night before its due.
US Family Health Plan is all about a having a plan – no pun intended! Right now, parents can plan to help their kids have a great start to the new school year while still enjoying the last bits of summer. With these tips in mind, you can help take the stress out of last minute preparation for the school year, and get everyone off to a cool and confident start. We are all about healthy and happy families. Education is big part of that equation. So let’s take time to get ready for back to school!