As your kids look forward to that final waterpark excursion, last summer break road trip, saying so long to summer campmates, and those final long days of adventuring with friends, you can begin preparing them and your family for the school year ahead!
Before the Year Starts
Prior to the first day of school, you may want to practice waking up and getting ready for school to get back in the routine. For younger children, this can include practicing self-help skills such as hand washing, tying shoelaces, and opening packages/drinks packed in the lunchbox, making the practice both positively challenging and educational for your child. Create an after school schedule for your child that includes time for snacks, play, chores, and homework. Decide whether and when electronics will be allowed.
Another way to smooth the morning routine and prevent those “I don’t want to wear that!” or “Where’s my favorite shirt?” hassles, have your kids pick outfits, prepare backpacks, and pack lunches the night before.
Exercise Your Parent Secretary Skills
If your child’s school has an open house or meet & greet event, take the opportunity to attend with your child, and locate the classroom(s), cafeteria, office, library, and other areas your child might need. You can also get a copy of the school calendar to keep track of teacher holidays and other dates that school is out. It also helps to have a game plan for when your child is sick and needs to stay home or be picked up from school.
If you are working parents, have arrangements in place for Before- and After-School Care. For children attending school on an installation, care might be available through the Child and Youth Program. Visit Militarychildcare.com to register. For children attending schools off base, contact the school to see if onsite care is offered or other options available.
Keep Important Information Updated and Accessible
Some schools require mandatory vaccinations. Keep updated shot and medical records for your child, along with birth certificates, IEP/504, and any other important documentation in an organized, accessible location. (If you are PCSing, always carry these documents with you; never pack them with your household goods.)
If your child has an IEP or 504 plan, review these and determine what services the school provides. You can meet with your child’s teacher(s) to discuss your child’s educational needs, and contact your Exceptional Family Member Program if you have any concerns about the implementation of your child’s IEP/504 plan.
Most schools require at least two or three emergency contacts located nearby. If you do not have relatives that live close, consider asking a trusted neighbor, co-worker, or friend, if they are willing to be a contact. If your child has made a friend throughout r the summer, consider asking the friend’s parents to be emergency contacts.
Don’t forget to start the day with a nutritious breakfast, so your child has energy to get through the morning until lunch. Whether your child will primarily buy lunch or bring it, find out what the payment process is and whether any foods are prohibited in the cafeteria or classrooms.
One idea to help your older children become more self-sufficient in meal planning is to print the lunch/breakfast menus from the school’s website (if available), for placement on the household fridge, so your child can check the menu regularly and decide their preference for that day/week.
The first day of school can be exciting, but also emotionally exhausting. Discuss with your child any concerns he/she might have about their first day. Contact your local School Liaison to answer your questions about public, private, and homeschool education; graduation and course requirements; test preparation; and more. For a complete list of School Liaisons across the world, visit https://www.dodea.edu/partnership/.