Back-to-school life hacks for parents and students

Updated: Aug. 15, 2019 at 2:41 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - In just four days, it will be time for students in Horry and Florence counties to crack open those textbooks again for a new school year. We know getting back into the routine can be tough on everyone in the house and you might feel the stress, especially on Monday mornings.

Here’s a few simple solutions parents can do a few days before that first bell rings:

  • Save extra time in the morning. Plan a week’s worth of outfits. Start teaching your kids to use alarms on their own instead of relying on you to wake them up.
  • Establish a morning routine. Experts say children are more likely to thrive, be independent and struggle less when they know what’s expected of them. A visual schedule for the week using pictures and words can help kids stay on track. You can also color-code a clock and by the time it gets to a certain color, kids will know to have their teeth brushed, eat breakfast, etc.
  • Experts say have your child be involved in the back-to-school process as much as possible. It will not only ease your workload, but also gives them some responsibility.
  • Pre-plan a menu for the week and have items in the fridge; kids can grab and build their own lunch.
  • It’s also a good idea to have a checklist near your door. Before your child heads out, they’re reminded to check if they have things like their backpack, lunch, or sports gear.
  • When students start returning with homework, teachers say it’s important for parents to know your kid’s limits.

“One issue that tends to come up especially at the beginning of the year is dealing with homework challenges, and what we typically recommend is ten minutes of homework per grade level. So if your child’s in fifth grade and it’s taking them longer than 50 minutes to do their homework, that is the time for you to reach out to the teacher," said Catherine Scott, an associate professor of elementary education at Coastal Carolina University.

Many parents may also be just getting into the back-to-school routine with kids stepping into the classroom for the first time this year. Whether your child is strapping on a backpack for the first time or just starting a new year, the first day of school is bound to be nerve-wracking for many. Teachers say the key to easing those back-to-school jitters is doing a little work ahead of time.

For parents with children in Pre-K or Kindergarten, it’s normal for children to experience separation anxiety the moment they’re dropped off at school during the first few days. So when you say “goodbye” to your child, keep it short and sweet. Stay positive so your child doesn’t pick up any anxious feelings you have about leaving them.

Teachers say a good tip for parents with younger students is to have a tag on your child's backpack with their name and grade to help teachers and staff identify them. Many times, the little ones will clam up on their first day and forget. If your child seems nervous for the new school year, rehearse going to school and take them to visit the school or classroom before the first day. Reading stories prior to school to ease anxiety can also set up that expectation for kids before they head back to the classroom.

For the older kids, just knowing where each classroom is can help ease anxiety around getting lost or being late for a class. Also, learn the school rules such as the dress code and bell schedule. As students ease into the school year, establishing a solid day-to-day routine from the beginning will help in the long run.

“As parents, we want our kids to have the best. But finding that balance between over scheduling your child and letting them just be a kid is really important. Especially as kids get into older grades, the responsibilities of school increases greatly, and so making sure you have that happy medium so you’re not driving kids to their dance for eight hours a night on top of homework and everything else,” said Scott.

With the first day of school around the corner, it’s also a good time for parents to ease their kids into a back-to- school sleep routine if you haven’t already.

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