Back to School
As the summer season winds down, the frantic school prep begins. For a lot of families, but especially military ones, this season can be busy with back-to-school prep and nerves. Chances are if you’re a military family, this school year brings a new duty location, new school, new friends, new routines. Lucky for you, we’ve given you a breakdown of the best tips and tricks to help make this time of year easier for everyone!
Operation Homefront provides the Back-To-School Brigade. This is a nationwide campaign that collects and distributes free school supplies, including backpacks, to the children of service members; saving you and your family the cost (and trouble!) of back-to-school shopping. Want to get involved? You can become a volunteer or set up a donation box local to you!
- Tax Free Weekend (This is only applicable for specific things in specific states. Click here to see what is allowed.)
If your kid is anything like mine, buying bigger clothes has become a task that is done way too often. Take advantage of the tax-free weekends for your back-to-school clothes shopping this year! During a sales tax holiday, a state encourages consumer spending by allowing tax-free purchases of certain items such as clothing, footwear, school supplies, and even computer equipment. These weekend perks do vary from state to state, so be sure to check out if your state participates. At any rate, it is a great way to beat inflation and get a bang for your buck!
- Get Out of the Summer Slump…Slumber?
What does my favorite morning look like, you ask? Well, that would be when my kids sleep in until 9 and I can drink my coffee while it’s still hot. The only downfall? They won’t go to bed until 10! Admit it, we all do it. Summertime = late bedtime. But what’s the easiest way to reset their biological clocks once the start of the school year begins to tick down? Start early! Just like in treating jet lag, this process can take some time. Studies have shown that children need about 10-14 days to readjust. Start by getting ready for bed 15-20 minutes earlier every few days. Sticking to a bedtime routine and ensuring that the kids are awake at the same time every morning is a huge contributing factor in resetting their clocks. It is also suggested to eliminate screen time one hour before bed due to the suppression of melatonin levels and delayed sleepiness from the blue-light.
- Get Connected at Your Child’s New School
Gearing up to go back to school usually gets those butterflies fluttering, especially if you are starting somewhere new. Here are a few ways you can help your child feel rooted and at their new school.
- Contact your School Liaison Officer – SLOs can assist with special education, deployment support, youth programs, scholarships, college, career, and military readiness. Every major military installation has a School Liaison Program. For a list of school liaisons at CONUS and OCONUS installations, please visit the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission website at www.mic3.net and scroll down to the “Find My School Liaison” menu. Home-schooling? Your school liaison can fill you in on state and local home-schooling requirements and connect you with nearby home-school groups.
- Join Local Facebook Groups – Search Facebook for school and/or parent groups that you can “like” and “follow” to obtain information about the school and extracurricular activities for your child. You can find “closed groups” for your new location to learn the ins-and-outs from long-time locals, as well as utilize the groups as a tool to arrange playdates and encourage new friendships before the new school year begins.
- Get Involved! – Stay connected with your school by joining their PTA, volunteering in the cafeteria, or becoming the class parent. Not only can it be reassuring for your child to see you active in their own hallways, but it can also give you a glimpse of how your child may be adjusting to your new location.
- Make Mealtimes Count
Adjusting to a new school can be hard. Keep the consistency with your kids by making it a point to sit down at the table together to talk about their day. Not only does eating as a family correlate with lower rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, but it also shows higher rates of resilience and higher self-esteem. This time will give you the opportunity to have a daily insight into the challenges your child may be facing at school. Research published in JAMA Pediatrics notes that regular family contact facilitates more parental guidance and open communication between kids and their parents.
Whether your family is heading back to the same bus stop or starting a new carpool this year, we hope these tips and tricks will help ease the stress!