The “Back to School” displays and sales start right after the Fourth of July (Really? Is that necessary?) just to remind us how quickly the summer passes and how much there is to do before the school buses roll again. (I don’t need that reminder, thank you very much! :0 )
As I sit to write this, it is the last weekend before I start back to work in my classroom. Granted, the “official teacher days” are still almost 2 weeks away, but I like to spend lots of unhurried time setting up my room; moving, painting, cleaning, unpacking, sorting, organizing, rearranging. And as I do all those tasks I imagine what my newest kindergarteners will look like (ok..I admit it, and how they’ll behave!) and how quickly we will become a family of learners.
So, with all this planning comes thoughts of not only what I need to do for my students, but what I need to do for myself to stay healthy, balanced, and productive.
How do you prepare for this seasonal shift? Do you find the thought of summer’s end and the back to school rush puts you into overwhelming stress mode? Or perhaps you are like the dad in the Staples commercial singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
Well, as a teacher of primary aged students for many years I have a few observations and tips to pass along. These might just help you keep your cool as you head back to school with less stress.
Back to School Tips
routines, routines, routines
Part of the joy of summer is a less structured time. Schedules loosen up, days are longer, activities are primarily outside (hopefully). Routines may have changed…maybe dramatically! So start tomorrow with re-establishing at least one routine…
- gradually move back the bedtime so that it more closely aligns with the school day schedule. Keep in mind the amount of sleep for optimal health in a pre-schooler is 10-13 hours, a school aged child is 9-12 hours, and a teenager is 8-10 hours. This is the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- eat meals and snacks at a more consistent time. There will most likely be another shift once school gets started, but a predictable time for feeding the body (with healthy foods, of course!) helps with blood sugar levels and more even temperaments.
- get (back?) into the habit of choosing outfits for the next day the night before. Practice this little trick I help my kindergarten students learn. It is called, “think through the day”. Either the night/day before or the morning of, stop and make a list (written, or oral) of what is planned for the next day. Are you heading to the beach? Pack the beach bag with the sunscreen, towel, change of clothes, sandals, etc. Once school actually starts, Is it a Library day? Put the library book in the backpack. You get the idea! This not only helps to trigger the thought process for remembering, it also helps children who may be anxious about new experiences, to practice and be prepared ahead of time.
fashion tips (ha!)
- Don’t worry about getting all the clothes shopping done before the first day. Even here in New England, we have plenty of warm/hot days for the remainder of August and sometimes well into the first weeks of September. Summer outfits are fine! (Ok, ok, maybe one special first day of school outfit for those adorable pictures…) Bonus: Fall clothing is discounted soon after schools start, too…got to make room for Halloween costumes and winter, eh?)
- For the younger children, keep the buttoning, snapping, zippering to a minimum. They will feel more confident and successful if they can dress on their own. (Also saves time in the mornings!)
save some dough and time
- Also, school supplies…if possible, wait until you either meet the teacher(s) or you receive a list from the school to confirm what is actually necessary. Many a student teeters in with a huge backpack stuffed with Trapper Keepers, lined paper, 64 crayons, a tool box filled with pencils, erasers, etc. All I need them to have is a functioning backpack and lunch box/bag.
fill those bellies
- Now is a great time to start to look at prepping and freezing some meals for those super busy days.
- Check out some of the healthy snack recipes and ideas below. Many are ones to make ahead for multiple days. Bonus points if your children help you grow the ingredients, shop with you for them and make these. Maybe he/she will actually eat them?!? 🙂
No Bake Snack Bars
2 cup – dates (double check to remove the pits!)
3/4 cup – cashews
1/4 cup – peanut butter, sun butter or almond butter, all-natural
1/2 cup – coconut flakes, unsweetened preferred
2 tablespoon – cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/8 teaspoon – sea salt
- Toss ingredients into a food processor and process until the mixture begins to get smooth and forms into a ball. The dates will be smooth but you’ll still have small pieces of nut. (If your children prefer no chunks, process a bit longer.)
- Turn the mixture out into an 8 or 9-inch square dish lined with parchment paper. Firmly press the mixture into the bottom of the dish. Cover and chill in refrigerate for 30 mins.
- Remove the bars from the pan and cut into pieces using a sharp knife. Enjoy these bars cold or frozen. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer.
Banana Oat Bites
2 ripe bananas
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips
a heaping spoon of peanut butter
Combine all ingredients together. Mix well. Roll into small balls.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 tsp teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 sea salt
- Puree seeds in a food processor until they become a fine powder
- Add oil, honey, cinnamon and salt. Puree again until the butter becomes smooth and spreadable.
- Spread on fruit, vegetables, or crackers.
- Refrigerate leftovers and use within a month.
Strawberry breakfast or snack bites
Vegan, Gluten free
Self Serve Snacks
Gather any of the following rinsed and dried fruits, vegetables or nuts. Portion them into small snack size baggies. Store in refrigerator in a clear bin or container.
- blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries whole
- melon cubes/balls/spears
- pineapple chunks
- sliced apples soaked in lemon water
- orange slices
- pomegranate seeds
- dried apricots or mangoes
- cucumber slices
- baby carrots
- bell pepper slices
- raw broccoli florets
- raw cauliflower florets
- celery sticks
- cherry or grape tomatoes
- mini sweet peppers or regular sweet peppers sliced
- raw sugar snack peas
- cashews, almonds or pecans