1001 Tips for Military Families – # 436

Back to School – Tip # 436

It is hard enough but trying to get your kids ready for heading back to school but when one of you is away, you have been posted, they are starting a new school, etc. it can be even rougher and tougher. Whether your children are 6 or 16, there are feelings (good and bad), anxieties, fears, excitement, nerves and many stresses that come with the start of any school year.  It is also an expensive time of year for parents and that can be an additional stress for everyone.  Below are some tips that will help you and your child(ren) to survive the transition from the lazy days of summer to the routines of the school year.

Tips:

* Check with your child’s school (call or visit their school website or the school board website) and see what things are actually required. Often when my children tell me they have to have it for school it can be translated to they want to have it. It helps to know in advance what are needs and what are wants.

* If your budget is tight and you aren’t able to get information about what your child will need,  put a note in their bag, to their teacher, on the first day of school asking them to send you home a list of things that they will need and that way you won’t be blindly buying things that may go unused or be wasted. Buy what you can and let the school know that finances are tight.

* If you have the luxury of knowing, in advance, that a family member is going to be away during this time, shop in advance and hide it all in a bucket until they need it. Your absent family member could leave a note in the bucket giving their best pieces of advice for the first day of school or something funny that happened to them at school when they were younger.

* Before leaving to go shopping ask they to make a list with three columns – Must Have/Would Make Life Easier/Luxuries. This will give them and you some perspective.

* Let your children know well in advance what stores you intend on going to and what the budget is.

* If you want to avoid taking your children, ask a friend to trade with you. You’ll take their kids while they go and they’ll take yours while you go. It will be faster, you’ll get what they need and you can even take a few moments to wonder around the store in peace and quiet.

* Let the school know of up-coming, current or lengthy absences of a significant family member. It will also be important to let the school know how your child handles stress and absence. It is also extremely important that you let the teachers and school know about when your family member is returning as that can bring change and stress too.

* Know your child’s teachers – whether your children are in Kindergarten, middle school or high school you should make a point of knowing the names and contact information of your child(ren)’s teachers. Your kids need to know that you can get in touch with them easily and it will be important for you to keep them up to date with what is happening in your household (ex. absences, deployments, re-integration, moves, etc.).

* When you have an absent family member contact information also needs to be changed at the school (One of my children was hurt of the play ground and it took them over 20mins to get in touch with me as they had been trying to get in touch with my husband – he was in Afghanistan!). Ask someone to be the second contact while your family member is away and then send in a letter to the school with that information.

* There are also excellent books for younger students that you can read in advance of school starting to help reduce the anxiety (The Kissing Hand and The Invisible String).

* If you are starting a new school and your child has additional medical needs or academic information that it would be helpful for the school to have, make a copy and drop it off the week before school starts (all school offices are open one week prior to the first day of school)

* If your child has allergies or medication that will potentially need to be administered at the school, go online and get the forms you will need and ensure you have the right people signing and authorizing them (schools often need a family doctor to sign off on them)

There is something magical about the beginning of the school year and the ‘back to school frenzy’ although it can be an exhausting ride. Ask for help and try to make it as fun and stress free as possible for everyone. Check with your military resource or your base social workers to see what they are offering in terms of support and/or resources too.

For more information about our tips, books and resources, go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

If you are a fan of our tips and resources please take a quick minute to vote for our blog at: 

http://www.circleofmoms.com/top25/Top-25-Military-Moms-2012

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