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As the school year is just getting underway for many of us, I thought it might be time for a conversation about back-to-school systems — what are the things you do each year to make the school year go more smoothly?
My Back-to-School Systems
Getting Familiar With Whatever the Parent/Teacher Technology Is
Over the past few years my kids’ teachers have used a NUMBER of different ways to communicate with parents. These may include parent-teacher apps like ClassDojo, Google Classroom, or updates via email, newsletter, in the “report card” app (which, whee, I was only checking about once a quarter), and via group text messages (I think the app was Remind).
Whatever it is that they’re using, it’s the parents’ job to get familiar with it and check it. (And maybe to delegate one parent to check it regularly — in our family that’s me, and I have it set to be one of the browser tabs that automatically opens when I restart the computer.)
Getting Our Night-Before Routine Down Pat
We’ve done this in a variety of ways, whether it’s partially packing the kids’ lunches, moving things from the freezer to the fridge (OK, Uncrustables), or putting things into the freezer (ice packs, juice pouches that will serve as ice packs, whatever). A lot of times crucial elements get buried in the back of the cabinets, such as the Thermos jar that’s crucial if one of the boys is having soup or pasta.
We also try to check clothes — my eldest has surprised us too many times by suddenly announcing on a school morning that he has no clean pants. Sigh. (I’ve never done the “put the kids to sleep in their school clothes” trick, though!)
Updating My Son’s “About Me” Resume
This should probably be a post on its own — one of my sons has ADHD and can be a bit of a challenge to teach at times, so I have a little “resume” that tells the teacher a bit about him (to personalize and give context) and also provides teaching tips for when it’s especially challenging. Growing Hands-On Kids has a good sample “about me” resume here.
Obviously not every child will need this — and I think keeping it brief is key! — but teachers seem to have appreciated it in the past.
Set Up the “Slow Recycle” for the Year
This is a bit weird, but our way of dealing with the buckets and buckets of paperwork that comes home from school is to put it in a “slow recycle” bag. It’s just a brown garbage bag that we keep near the kitchen that all schoolwork goes into. If my kid decides they vitally need something we thought was garbage (or are highly offended we threw away some artwork) then they’re right there.
(We do take pictures of their artwork before we trash them, though, and a select few pieces do go on the freezer door…)