While the calendar DEFINITELY says it's still summer, the truth of the matter is that, love it or hate it, it's time to start thinking "back to school" thoughts. We here at Pear Tree definitely understand what this can be like for students (and teachers) of all ages -- we have current students on our staff as well as a teacher and a former teacher! -- and would like to offer some real tips on how to make going to school easier on everyone involved!
1. Let's Talk Supplies
If you have a student in your family, then you are likely on the hunt for school supplies. The list of what you need might be very generic, like "pens", and it might be startlingly specific (I spent a good chunk of last August searching for a binder that HAD to be orange), but the list is real. We suggest taking a good look at that list and figuring out the following:
a) are there items left over from last year that could still work this year? (I'm looking at you, orange binder!)
b) are there items that your student is absolutely NOT allowed to bring in? As an example, our school list says Trapper Keepers are 100% not allowed. No matter how much my students begs for one, it's a no-go. Make note of those -- you don't want to spend hard earned cash on items that you can't use!
c) are there a few items on the list that you can make personal and fun for your student? This is especially important if you have an, um, reluctant student -- if you can get her excited about going back to school by getting her some cute pens that she really likes, or a fun notebook, it might help soften the back-to-school blow! (Our pen bar and art supplies both offer some really cool options ... we're just saying!)
2. Get Planning!
When you have a household with multiple students -- or you're a teacher with multiple responsibilities! -- your schedule can get very full, very very quickly. This can be incredibly overwhelming, especially at the beginning of the school year, when everyone in the house starts feeling like they are being pulled in fifty different directions at once. One way to alleviate that is to use a weekly planner, like the one shown from Designworks, so that everyone can see what is scheduled for the week and when, as well as what tasks need to be completed for the week. (This also allows you to see potential pain points in your week as well -- does Jane need to be at play practice at 4 PM on the same day that Jill has to be at the dentist across town at 4 PM? If you see it in advance, you can find a way to make this magic happen!)
We firmly believe in the power of planning. Let us help you to get organized!
3. Time to Start Adjusting!
As a former teacher, I can tell you that the beginning of the school year is exhausting for everyone. EVERYONE. Students, school staff, parents ... EVERYONE. One of the best ways to help with that transition is to start adjusting bedtimes a few weeks before school starts, especially for little ones. Backing up bedtimes a little at a time makes it much less of a fight when school starts, because you're less likely to hear "But I got to go to bed at 10 YESTERDAY".
And for adult students and school staff, it means you've gotten a little more sleep. Which is good. Because you will need it.
4. Time to Clean!
Psssst. You. Yes you. Do you still have all of the papers from LAST YEAR stuffed into a folder somewhere? GET RID OF THEM. You do not need last year's teacher's contact info. Or the list of classroom supplies. Or ANYTHING from last year. You need THIS year's stuff. Throw that old stuff away ... it will just confuse you if you should need to look something up this year.
(If you can, please recycle. We'll all be better off for it. BUT GET RID OF IT!)
5. Stress happens ... Let's Get Some Tools!
The combination of schedule changes, a packed schedule, homework, and everything else that comes with back-to-school can leave even the best of us a little stressed, no matter how much planning we've done to try to forestall it. We suggest the following:
a) realize that it's okay and natural to be stressed out. Life is busy and change is difficult! Make sure you have those conversations with yourself and your students that it is understandable that they are stressed, and that you can work with them to help to de-stress in a productive way.
b) make use of handy items like the Squeezibos pictured to give students (and yourself! Why not? They're CUTE!) something to squeeze, toss into the air, and generally use to help them to manage their stress and stay focused.
c) try essential oils or items with an aromatherapy component to help combat the stressies! Lavender is relaxing and can be found in bath and body products, or can be used in a heated packet to help people to find their calm. We also carry a line called Pinch Me that combines aromatherapy and a manipulatable putty that all ages enjoy playing with. (Pro Pinch Me tip: Make an air bubble in a bit of dough and pop it. The snap is very satisyfing.)
Ready or not, here comes the school year! We're more than happy to assist you with any and all preparations as you enjoy the rest of your summer!