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Coach Mom Newsletter - AUG 2010

It's Back to School Time!

It’s August, and, if you have school-aged children, that means change. I once heard that the only people who really enjoy change are babies with dirty diapers. With some planning, change doesn’t have to be such a painful thing. This issue I am sharing some of my favorite back-to-school tips. I also am also thankful to include Dana Bailey’s back-to-schooling advice for homeschooling families. Enjoy, and may your back-to-school days be peaceful, joyful, and blessed in every way!

Back-to-School Tips:

Organizing Spaces

  • Create a central place for children to store backpacks, lunchboxes, jackets, and shoes. We removed the hanging bar from our front entryway coat closet and placed tri-hooks (Each hook has a place for a backpack, lunchbox, and jacket) on each side of the wall, and put a small closed-back shelf to hold most-often-worn shoes. Securely anchor the hooks on a stud or beam so that they can stand the weight of a full backpack.

  • Label jackets and sweatshirts with a permanent marker.

  • Identify a place that children can do homework, and that it is sufficiently stocked with pencils, erasers, etc. The best place for younger children will probably be in the kitchen or somewhere that is convenient for you be in case they need help.

  • Find a small chest of drawers to save “keeper” papers. Try to only save the best papers that show your child’s abilities, and toss the rest (there will be many more papers to come!) When the drawer fills up, weed out least favorites and keep adding. When it fills up again, file it in a bin to save.

  • Create a file for pending papers. (I.e. fundraiser magazines and packets, scripture memory cards, etc.)

  • Create a notebook for pertinent information to have at home such as class schedules, school calendar, team rosters, etc.

  • Do a family “home tidy” before going to bed, so you can start the morning with a clean and orderly house.

Organizing Time

  • Lay out clothes the night before, including socks and shoes. If you have a child who is finicky about textures, try new things on the night before. Ask, “Does this feel okay?”

  • Make sure your child gets back into a good sleeping routine at least a week before school starts (nine-ten hours a night is typically good.)

  • Consider what you want your mornings to look like and begin your routine. What tone do you want to set for the day? Limit TV and videogames. Read a short devotion or lead the family in a prayer. If your children walk to the bus stop, you might pray over them before they walk out the door, or if you drive them to school, you might use that time to pray for them.

  • Make a plan for after school, and communicate that plan. You might allow a short time for a snack and catching up on the day’s events, but then start homework and any practicing before the “fun” stuff, such as playing with friends. For older children with more homework, you might set the timer for 30 minutes, then give them a play break.

Organizing Meals

  • To reduce the morning rush, make breakfast foods the night before. I do not like to cook in the morning and start the day with a dirty kitchen, so I often whip up some scrambled eggs and bacon or oatmeal while making dinner. The next morning we are able to easily make egg/sausage bagel sandwiches, or just heat up single-serving portions of the oatmeal.

  • On Sunday evenings, help children make their sandwiches for the week, put them in sandwich baggies and label them with Sharpies, then place in a freezer bin. You might also pack non-refrigerated items the night before, such as pretzels and fruit. This makes packing a lunch in the morning easy, and it keeps lunchmeat cool until lunchtime. No need to carry an icepack, either.

  • Use your slow cooker more often. Preparing dinner will be one less thing on your to-do list . Check out my blog for one of my favorite slow cooker recipes.

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Advice from a Homeschooling Mom by Dana Bailey

Organize your school area.  I’m not the type of mom who makes her home school area look like a classroom, but I do like to keep supplies handy and organized.

Create a notebook with your schedule, reading list, list of curriculums and whatever else you need to have close by.  This is where I keep my lesson plans and ideas for future projects.  I keep a record of community service hours and field trips we take.  I often call it my “brain” because it helps to keep my focused on what we are working on.

Be prepared. Texas law does not require home schools to write lesson plans, but it really helps in preparation for the new school year. Nothing is more disappointing than starting a lesson only to realize you need some extra supplies for a project that you don’t have.  I keep a running list in my purse of extra items we need along with a date of when we need it by.

Set clear boundaries for your schedule.  Set specific hours to do school & stick with it.  Try not to make appointments during that time or play dates.  Turn on your answering machine and set your cell phone to vibrate during school time.  Answering the phone is the best way to break the flow of your school day.

Start off slow.  We never start with our full schedule if we have been off for more than a month.  We start with half days and work up to our full schedule.  This makes the transition from summer break to school much easier and a little less painless.

Don’t sign up for every field trip available.  It is so easy to start the new Fall season with high hopes of going on many interesting field trips during the year. It is really easy to over load your schedule, leaving you with little actual school time.  Limit yourself to one trip a month until you get a better grasp on your schedule.

Create a menu for the week, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  Meal time can be an anxious time of day if you are not ready for it.  Breakfast prep should not take too long.  Bake muffins the night before and prepare a smoothie from frozen fruit in the morning.  Keep lunch easy.  Often we eat sandwiches or pop some pizzas in the oven.  On really busy days, dinner is slow cooked in the crock pot or a casserole that I prepare ahead of time and bake when I’m ready.

Remember, tomorrow is a new day!  If today was horrible, that is o.k., you can start all over again tomorrow.  When you are starting a new school year after a summer break, it is an adjustment to the new schedule. Remember to be patient with your kids as they get back in the groove.  Take lots of breaks, play games, take walks. 

Always start your day with the Lord.  Spend some time in prayer with your children before any lessons begin.  If things are getting a bit crazy, stop & pray together asking the Lord to help everyone refocus.

Have fun!  As important as a good education is, the heart of our children is even more important.  Have fun with your kids.  Don’t get so wrapped up in your lessons that you forget the reason you are homeschooling your children.

Dana Bailey, mother of 10, has homeschooled since 1996. She was named Texas Homeschool Leader of the Year in 2006 by Texas Homeschool Coalition.  When Dana isn’t homeschooling, she enjoys Monday night date night with her husband, blogging and coffee with good friends.  Dana is also a speaker to women’s groups and home school groups. Dana and her family attend Stonebriar Community Church, Frisco. Learn more about Dana’s ministry at www.LivingStones4moms.com.

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