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  • Writer's pictureHawraa Zakery

Tips for Surviving School Preparation Without Pulling Your Hair Out!

As the summer ends, most of us are thinking about school preparation, shopping and planning.

Here are some helpful tips to make back to school a fun family activity.

Shopping for school is a great opportunity to help our children become more responsible and engaged in decision making

Involve children by asking them to find their school supply list on the web.

I am one of those parents that asks for help but at the end of the day, I want to do all the work by myself. As parents we tend to want to do all the work because it is much easier to just get the job done than to constantly correct children when they do not get it right. But let's face it, our role as a parent is to help children and not to do the work for them. School preparation is one of those situations where we can practice better parenting by involving our children.

Give your children total freedom to choose their own supplies BUT give them a budget.

How many times have you heard parents and children’s conversion at the back- to-school aisle as the child asks for a new cute trendy backpack and the parent reasons that the item is over priced? Smart parents cut the argument by setting the right rules.

Tell your students that the can pick ANY brand, style, type of the supply they like but they have a set budget to use. All you have to do it to set a budget for each child’s supply list and have them do the work. This practice gives the children freedom to choose what they want but also teaches them to compromise. They might make decisions that us as parents would not make, but at the end of the day, chances are they are happier with their shopping and you have an easier experience at the store.

Side note: please be fair with the budget amount!

Color code if you need to.

I have a friend with three back-to-back girls. For the last two years she suffered at clean-up time. When it came to clean school supplies, girls disowned the item saying its the other sisters and she has to clean up. Until last year that collaboratively we made a decision to color code their school supplies. Each girl had to pick 3 colors and buy all their supplies based on their chosen color. Guess what, it became impossible to claim “that's not mine”. As soon as an item was found on the floor, it was easy to know who it belonged to.

So if you have a number of children and it is difficult to remember who had what, color code their items but make sure to give them the freedom to choose their favorite colors.

Make changes around the house

Make home study friendly.

If you have a homework station, make some changes around it. Use the children's help to clean and decorate it. According to research, designated homework areas help reduce anxiety associated with homework.

If you do not have a homework station, create one. You do not need a fancy desk, or a big room. Part of your kitchen island, one sofa, or one corner of the room can easily be used as a workstation for your children.

Make more out of the lunch

Create a menu for school lunch

If your children take food to school, it helps to sit as a family and have them help you in creating a weekly menu of food that they actually like to eat at school. Many parents pack “good food” only for the children to bring it back untouched. With a little more planning and involvement, lunch can be fun and nutritious, too.

Plan, plan, plan

Make a public visual planner

I know most parents, even children, use their phone calendars to plan for the event and activities, it is super helpful to make one planner with everyone’s activities in one place for all to see. Such planner cuts communication time and also prevents communication problems.

Work on sleep hygiene

Start a healthy sleep hygiene before school starts

During summer, most children have the freedom to sleep and wake up as they wish. I know I always loved that freedom, not just when I was a student, but as a parent too. However, good sleep is a key to a better functioning memory and brain. It also prevents facing grumpy children in the morning.

Create a good sleep hygiene by setting a sleep and wake time, picking books to read at bedtime, changing the old toothbrush and even getting new bed sheets, if possible.

And never forget a kiss and good night hug is a must for raising happy children and becoming happier parents.

Weekend school, is a real thing :)

Invest in their Islamic School Supplies

I know my saying that as the Islamic school principal might sound like I am advocating for my own cause, but the reality is our children are watching us carefully. To raise successful children we need them to have high education and higher moral and faith. When your children see that you care to get the nicer backpack for her/his Islamic school she/he learns that you value Islamic education. This is how we communicate that connecting with and learning about their faith is as important as math and biology.

Make time to help your children get ready and study for their weekend classes.

Let them know that you understand it is not easy to go to school six days a week, but they can rely on you to be there for them when they need help.

Finally, here are some ideas on how to brighten up your children’s day at school:

  • Once in a while, write a short note and hide it in your children's lunch box, coat, backpack or even desk. Let them know you love them no matter what! Because you do, don't you?

  • If loving notes are not your “thing”, write a joke or leave a candy in their lunch box. Let them feel you are willing to go the “extra mile” to make them happy.

  • If possible, surprise them at school lunch time! Unless you have a middle schooler, in that case don't you dare show up at school: just send a note in that case.

  • Volunteer at a school event, children LOVE seeing their parents make a difference in front of their classmates.

Last words:

Back to school can be expensive, stressful and too much work. Strategic planning and smart spending with a little added excitement can make this experience a joyful one. I know we all are excited that we do not have to listen to them being bored at home any more (unless you are a teacher yourself, that is).

As a parent, keep in mind, we are influencing the future of humanity by raising tomorrow's leaders.

Let's start the new year with a good Bismillah and strong trust in Allah, InshaAllah

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