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Useful Tips for Back to School

It's time for the kids to start returning back to school which means more schedules, more commitments and more work for us parents and guardians.  My son is 25 now, has his own career, but it wasn't long ago that I was going through the exact stress, struggles and schedules that many of you are all facing today.  I wanted to give you a few tips and ideas that helped me out tremendously.

Tip 1 - Make a Schedule

I know many of you are probably thinking, "Why bother?", but the truth is, schedules help you to be a bit more structured.  Even if you do not do everything that you write down or intend to do, you are creating a way to keep track of future appointment, commitments and aspirations.  Having a schedule will also help prevent you from overbooking yourself.  Use the schedule to keep track of homework assignment, meetings, school events, parties, etc.  Pick up a yearly, monthly, or weekly calendar and start scheduling and planning.

Tip 2 - Check Your Child's Backpack Daily

You have no idea how many times I would ask my son if he had any important papers from school, or homework assignments.  He often said no, and then would find out late that night or the next morning that he had some major project or important paper due.  So, I started checking his backpack the moment he got home from school.

Tip 3 - Homework First

I found that the best way to get homework done was to make my son do it the moment he got home from school.  Since he was still in "school" mode, I would give him a light snack and have him do his homework assignments before he was allowed to turn the tv on or play.  This allowed him ample time to get the homework done and gave me time to start on supper.  It also allowed time for us to go over what he learned for the day and see if he had any trouble comprehending any of his lessons for the day.

Tip 4 - Communicate With Your Child's Teacher

I always found that it was important to have a good rapport with my child's teacher. I often would approach them after a few weeks of school, or back to school night and ask how my child was doing in class.  I ask if they saw any behavioral or educational problems that concerned  them.  I would always give them my number and tell them to contact me with any issues or concerns.  I also told them to leave any personal notes on the back pages of my child's notebook if they had any concerns with the daily assignment.  Also, if your child doesn't seem to be grasping the assignment they bring home from school, have them do the best they can, jot a note to the teacher, and follow up with a phone call to the office asking the teacher to call you at their convenience to discuss it.  This is a good way to re insure that your child doesn't fall behind and can also help to recognize if they have a learning curve.  From here you can get extra help, tutors, or whatever it takes to help your child.

Tip 5 - Get Quality School Supplies

I often found that buying cheap school supplies only led to me buying more school supplies.  I always made it a rule of thumb to purchase quality school supplies, especially binders and notebooks that are carried by the  Mead brand  for my child.  I trust the brand and know that their products are durable and reliable.  I also know that the brand stands behind their product.  For this reason, I reached out the Mead brand to sponsor our upcoming Back to School Giveaway which begins August 17th.  I, along with The Review Wire, will be giving away Mead Five Star Zipper Binders to 3 lucky winners.  So be on the look out for that giveaway.

Tip 6 - Safety First

This is the most important tip of all.  Your child's safety is important and there are certain tips I want to give you that are crucial.  First of all, NEVER EVER put your child's name on a shirt, jacket or backpack where it can be seen.  Always keep the names on tags  INSIDE their clothing or bag.  This will prevent predators from calling out their name if they are walking home from school etc.

If your child is diabetic or has any other kind of medical emergency illness, get them a medical alert bracelet or make one using letter beads.  Keep special instructions sealed in a ziploc with the words MEDICAL EMERGENCY INFO AND CONTACTS written on the bag in permanent marker.  You can also send a note to the child's teacher and bus driver advising them where to look for the info.

Place your name, contact info and emergency contacts inside your child's backpack, pinned to the inside. Use a white cloth and permanent marker to write it on, so it cant get destroyed, like paper can.  If you want to use paper, keep it in a Ziploc bag labeled EMERGENCY CONTACTS.

Also, teach your child their address and phone number.  You can make up a song for them to remember or whatever you feel would help them remember it.  Ask them to repeat it daily before leaving home.  You can also write your phone number on their hand with a permanent marker or make a beaded bracelet with the phone number on it.

Give your child a safety plan for if they are ever in danger.  Teach them to scream FIRE FIRE! or  I AM IN DANGER CALL 911!  HELP ME HELP ME! You decide the phrase that you feel would work.  If they ever feel like they are in danger.  Teach them to run to the police or teachers if they ever need help or lost.  Have safety plan. Check out for more information.

Teach your child to go straight home after school, not stopping at friends or anywhere else unless you agree first.  If they are lost, make a plan for them.  Every neighborhood is different, so you would know best how they should handle the situation.  If you need advice, you can call a non emergency number of your local police for info.  There are also great resources on line.

Tip 7 - Plan Tomorrow Morning TODAY

You never know how your morning is going to go, or if you will be running late or oversleeping.  Plan tomorrow morning, the night before.  Lay out your child's clothing and school necessities the night before.  Make sure all papers are signed and filled out, etc.  Make your child's lunch and place it in the refrigerator in it's lunch box or bag, along with their snack.  Prep breakfast and have quick grab foods or granola bars handy just in case.

I hope these tips can help make your school year a bit easier.  I know that not everything that works for one parent will work for another, but even if one thing can help you out or give you an idea, that is what matters.  If you have any great tips that have helped you throughout the school year, I encourage you to write it in the comments below.  What may not work for one person, may work for another, so it is always great to share our knowledge as parents and guardians.