By Charlette Hilton
Every year around this time, notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, loose-leaf paper and a thousand other of these types of items suddenly start appearing in just about every store in North Louisiana and across the nation. That signals one thing…Back to School.
Back to school season elicits a variety of emotions in every heart, young and old. Some kids dread going back to school with the homework and routine.
“John Robert is our child who is the least excited about going back to school,” said Angie Taylor, mom to Sarah Kate, who will be a freshman at Ruston High School, and John Robert and Jack Henry who will be in second grade at A.E. Phillips. “While he is looking forward to seeing his friends, he is not looking forward to the school aspect of returning.”
Others thrive on routine and love the thrill of learning new things and seeing friends every day.
“My kids say they don’t want to go back to school, but I think they actually get excited about it, especially my younger ones,” said Mallory Rogers, mom of Mason, who will be a freshman at Ruston High School and Ryder and Kelsey who will both be in the fourth grade at Cypress Springs. “The excitement of meeting their new teacher and seeing all of their school friends is definitely there for them each year when it is time for school to start back. Mason has even made the comment this summer that he is ready to go back; I think he is looking forward to starting high school.”
Parents and teachers tend to be ambivalent about Back to School – sad for the carefree, lazy days of summer to end mixed with the desire for a structured routine.
Back to school can be stressful as parents scramble to buy back to school clothes, school supplies and begin to figure out how to juggle school and activity schedules. Planning ahead can lessen this stress and make back to school easier for everyone.
“We start getting up earlier about a week before school starts back,” said Laura Jones, mom to Annie who is a senior at Cedar Creek, Allie who is in tenth grade at Cedar Creek, Chloe who is an eighth grader at Cedar Creek and Jett who will be in sixth grade at A.E. Phillips. “We’ve typically shopped here and there all summer for uniforms and clothing.”
While most people have natural tendencies to procrastinate, thinking ahead and making yourself get those tasks done can help immensely with back to school.
“The biggest tip that I can share would be to start early. Try not to wait until the end of summer to purchase backpacks, uniforms and school supplies. We try to get as much accomplished as early as possible,” said Taylor.
Many parents begin easing their kids into a school-friendly routine a week or two before the big day. Jones starts this schedule about a week ahead of time. Taylor starts her kids back on their school routine the Sunday before school starts.
“That gives us almost a full week of going to bed on time,” said Taylor.
Rogers on the other hand, has a different viewpoint.
“This is probably an unpopular opinion, but we don’t really ease back into school mode. We are soaking up every bit of rest that we can before the hustle of the school year starts up again. I feel like we are in such high gear during the school year that it is worth slowing down and spending quality time as a family for as long as possible,” Rogers said.
Once school starts, many families struggle with fitting extracurricular activities, homework and dinner all into one evening.
“We plan the week’s suppers together on Sundays and they are posted on the dry erase board in the kitchen,” said Jones. “This helps with the constant asking what’s for supper?”
Rogers echoes meal planning as a lifesaver.
“I am a planner, especially during the school year. I plan meals two weeks at a time. I cook easier meals, usually in a crockpot, on nights that we will be running around for the kids’ activities. Planning meals helps me to make sure we are eating nutritious dinners even on a busy schedule,” said Rogers.
All three residents stress packing lunches the night before and completing homework as soon as possible after school.
“Doing homework immediately has made it less of a struggle and leaves more time for playing and doing other things,” said Rogers.
“Each of our kids has their own homework spot that is not in their room,” said Jones. “They can also do reading assignments in the car on the way to activities.”
Planning ahead, meal planning and completing homework assignments early will help make the back to school season a much easier transition. Rogers, who has taught at Ruston Junior High for the past eight years, will be moving to Ruston High School this year. As a teacher, Rogers has another perspective on back to school.
“Honestly, kids seem to bounce back into the school routine pretty quickly. I have never noticed a difference between students whose parents have done special things to prepare them versus the ones who have kept their summer schedule,” Rogers said. “I would encourage parents to worry less about preparing for early bedtimes and spend more time preparing their kids for being good people. I wish all parents would talk to their kids about being kind and respectful to others when school starts back.”
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