When you’re a kid, the hot days of summer seem to stretch on forever. Two and a half months of freedom are spent biking, swimming and eating enough Freezies to worry your tongue will be permanently blue.
As an adult, you blink and it’s September again.
While we’re not there just yet, the days are getting shorter and Halloween decorations have begun to creep onto store shelves. Fall, and the first day of school, are looming.
To avoid a stressful scramble on Labour Day weekend, check out these 10 tips to get the whole family ready for back-to-school season.
1. Stock up on school supplies
As kids grow, so does the list of supplies they require to hit the books. While they probably do need some new notebooks or journals (and maybe last year’s backpack took a beating), kids probably don’t need to replace every item on their school-sanctioned supply list. Reduce waste and save money by taking stock of what school supplies are already lying around your house—there are probably more pencils and markers in your kitchen than in a new box, anyway.
2. Limit screen time
We know that technology can change the world, but once school gets started those smartphones, tablets and gaming systems can be a major distraction from homework, and can negatively affect sleeping habits. (WE Well-being tip: sleep with your phone in another room to improve your zzzs!) Set a time each night for the whole household to log out and power down. Use your screen-free evenings to catch up on quality family time, get organized for the morning rush or get a few extra hours of sleep.
3. Give back to your local community
Whether you have a high school student who needs to complete volunteer hours to graduate or a middle schooler who is blossoming into a passionate young change-maker, start the new school year on a compassionate note and use the last few carefree days of summer to volunteer in your community. Seek out opportunities that utilize your family’s skill sets, like multilingualism or social media prowess, or take action on a local cause that resonates with you. Volunteering not only helps to create a better world, it can also help reduce stress, build confidence and help you live longer.
4. Plan a trip
Give the kids something to look forward to, like an unforgettable trip that doubles as an extended lesson in service-learning. Book a ME to WE Family Trip for the upcoming holidays and bond over giving back to a developing community through a culturally immersive experience. (Bonus: you can use the months leading up to teach the family about your destination’s history and people.) Expand your family’s worldview and become part of a community’ transformation in Kenya, India or Ecuador!
5. Make a good impression
Teachers definitely get first-day jitters, too. Start the new school year off on a kind note by giving a small token of appreciation to your kid’s homeroom teachers. Thoughtful options include award-winning chocolate, smooth coffee (they’ll need it!) or a handmade Rafiki Bracelet that helps children around the world access education.
6. Make a donation
Did last year’s growth spurt turn your daughter’s favourite jeans into capris? Is your son’s train set collecting a thick layer of dust? Scour your house for gently used toys and clothes and donate them to your local shelter. You’ll be helping someone in need and clearing up space for this year’s science fair projects, art class masterpieces and trophies. And, while you’re in the giving spirit, encourage kids who spent the summer mowing lawns and babysitting neighbours to donate some of their savings to a charity of their choice.
7. Perform random acts of kindness
Create a list of kind and caring actions and challenge your family to perform one every week during the first month back. From leaving encouraging notes on lockers to holding open doors to inviting a new friend to lunch, being kind to others while expecting nothing in return is a great way to form a positive habit.
8. Plan the road to WE Day
The 2019/2020 WE Day season kicks off on September 19 at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena! Youth can’t buy a ticket to WE Day, they have to earn their way there by taking action on local and global causes. Inspire kids to get a head start by planning how they can make their local community a better place, even before heading back into the classroom. Check out our WE Schools Kit to get started.
9. Create a playlist
10. Set a non-academic goal
Whether your daughter wants to improve a skill, your son is hoping to pick up a new hobby or your shy middle schooler is determined to make a new friend, set a non-academic goal for each family member to focus on when scholastic stresses add up. Sit down as a family before September and set a timeline for each goal. The secret to success here is making sure each goal is realistic, while still challenging.
Zoe Demarco is a writer and production manager for WE Stories. A third generation journalist, she has a natural curiosity for other people’s lives.