- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 30, 2003

Surviving September

Ready, set, go the new school year is here. These are some tips to make the transition into fall a little smoother:

mDecide how many after-school activities your child will take. Some families place a limit on the number of activities. Discuss choices with your child.

• Think about what schedule for your child will best fit his needs as well as the needs of the rest of the family. Leave time for play and downtime.

• Make sure you have received written confirmation of your child’s enrollment in each program, along with a calendar of key events and days off.

• Inquire about the equipment and uniform requirements for each activity.

• Find out how much parents will have to commit to each activity. Will there be extra rehearsals? Are parents expected to work as coaches or scorekeepers?

• Think about transportation logistics. If you have children in different schools, how will their bus schedules match or conflict?

• Figure out whether or not your child will walk to school. Go over the route with him. Arrange for neighborhood children to walk together.

• Decide whether you will be driving alone or carpooling. Make a telephone list and schedule for everyone in the car pool. Develop a contingency plan in case of illness or vacation. Find out if the school needs a special release notice for members of the car pool. Communicate specific requests, such as using booster seats or not letting children sit in the front seat.

• Remind your child that school is his job, and therefore it is very important. Being considerate of classmates, cooperating with teachers, following school rules and completing assignments are all part of a job well done.

• Plan ahead to reset children’s bedtime and wake-up times. Begin transitioning to an earlier bedtime. Get your elementary school children an alarm clock to help with morning wake-up and take the burden off you.

• Get a large family calendar with big blocks and assign each family member a colored pen to use so you can tell at a glance who has to be where.

• Start a list of important names and numbers. Among the entries: school main office, nurse’s office, teacher’s phone number, car-pool numbers and coaches’ numbers.

• Work backward to figure out exactly when your child needs to be awake and out the door in the morning. Calculate how long eating breakfast, dressing, brushing teeth and fixing hair take. Factor in how much transition time your child needs between waking up and starting into that routine.

• Think about what you can do the night before to make mornings go more smoothly. Can you pack backpacks and lunches the night before? Lay out clothes to avoid morning fashion battles.

• Make a designated space by the door for things that have to go to school the next day. That includes backpacks, lunches, permission slips and musical instruments.

• Pick a planner and live by it. Decide if you are a paper or Palm Pilot person and use your planner every day. Middle school and high school students can use their own planners in conjunction with yours.

Source: author Stacy DeBroff; professional organizer Julie Morgenstern.

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