Preparing Kids for Back to School.

Welcome to week 8 of the MVP Generation Go posts here on Frugal Upstate! As you know we’ve discussed Meal Planning, Kids and Youth Sports, Active Role Models, Discovering Your Community, Making Food Fun and Creative Recreation, and Time Management.  This week we MVP Generation Go ambassadors are talking about preparing your kids for back to school.

Now of course we all hit the stores this time of year and pick up paper, pens, backpacks, glue sticks, new underwear (MOM! I can’t believe you said that!) and whatever other “necessities” are required for boarding that big yellow bus in a few weeks. . . but that’s not the type of preparation I’m talking about.

There is a lot of mental preparation that goes into a kid going back to school.  Let’s face it.  School is it’s own microcosm, society if you will, and our kids have to navigate it, trying to fit in, find themselves, learn something and try to meet the expectations of their friends, family and teachers (which most likely are, at least in part, at odds with each other).

So what can you do to help your kid prepare for dealing with their peers?  I’ve got 4 things for you-two concrete, two that are a little more vague .

1.  Make sure they get a full night’s sleep.

Photo by Wesley Oostvogels

According to Web MD a children ages 7-12 need 10-12 hours of sleep each night, and ages 12-19 need 8-9 hours.  Are your kids getting that?  Lack of sleep can put your children and teens at higher risk for obesity, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems.

But what if your kid doesn’t want to go to sleep?  Sure, I’ve heard lots of folks say “well Johnny just doesn’t need that much sleep”.  Not to be snarky–but maybe little johnny wouldn’t be such a pain in the neck if he got more sleep!

Here are somethings the experts on Web MD recommend to help your child or teen get a better night’s sleep:

Have your child go to bed and wake up at the same times every night.
Keep the bedroom dark and cool.
Limit stimulating activities, such as TV, video games etc in the hour or so before bedtime.
Consider removing TV, cell phone, video games etc from your teen’s bedroom.
Talk to your child or teen about the importance of sleep.
Adjust the bedtime slowly, 15 minutes at a time until they are used to sleeping at a new, earlier time.
No caffeine after 3pm.
Help your teen schedule and manage their homework so they don’t have to pull “late nighters” to finish homework or projects.

2.  Make sure they eat a decent breakfast and lunch.

Photo by Cliff Muller

We all know that a good breakfast and lunch are important to kids.  According to an article on Nutrition,  research has shown that children who regularly ate breakfast had better standardized test scores, better behavior, and were less hyperactive than children who skipped breakfast.   So make sure your kids are eating well.

A tip-don’t get wrapped around the axle about what foods are “breakfast” foods.  Buddy’s favorite breakfast is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk.  It may not be eggs and bacon, but it actually has much more nutrition and protien than your average bowl of cereal.  Princess favors canned soup.  At least they are eating!

3.  Talk to them.

It’s amazing what kids will tell you if you take the time to talk to them.  ASK your kids (if they are young enough to be willing to share) what their hopes, dreams, fears etc are for the upcoming year.  If you need to be a bit sneaker-ask them what they are looking forward to most and least.  That may give you some tips on which areas to keep an eye on or probe further in later.

If you have areas you are especially worried about, make sure you have frequent short discussions with your kids about them.  I know it doesn’t seem like it, but they really do listen to us.  And repetition is the key to getting through as far as I am concerned.

Let’s take my son Buddy.  Buddy is very, very smart (yeah, I’m a proud dotting mama, but I’ve also got independent verification on that) but he is an active guy.  It’s easy for him to get bored with the pace the class is going at and look for alternate ways to amuse himself.  This usually ends badly for him.  I’ve noticed when we TALK about this, when I mention to him that he needs to concentrate and talk about ways to deal with the situation when he’s bored then he does much, much better.  When we slack off discussing it. . .well let’s just say it’s a bit harder for him to remember.

4.  Listen to them.

Photo by Simon James

Of course if your child is telling you that they are having problems being bullied you should listen to them.  But it’s more than that.  When you are driving carpool-keep the music down and LISTEN to what they are talking about back there.  Trust me-mom is invisible and deaf as far as they are concerned when you are driving-you will probably hear way more than you will any other way!

Another great way to listen is to have dinner table conversation.  Eating meals together as a family encourages sharing.  If you are new to it (or have gotten in the habit of a silent dinner) then try some conversation starters.  We have a dinner box-it’s a purchased box of conversation starters.  Things like “if you could have one superpower what would it be”, “What is your favorite desert” and “If you could learn one other language what would it be”.   Everyone has to answer!  My kids LOVE it.  Don’t want to shell out for a box? Well how about just doing “Best and worst”.  You go around the table and every family member has to say the best and worst thing that happened that day.  Everyone has to say something-sometimes the worst is simply “I couldn’t find my red shirt”.

Finally, just listen to them in general when they take the time to talk to you.  Sometimes I could just scream when I am getting a blow by blow recap of every single thing that Buddy did on Lego Indiana Jones. . . but he’s sharing it with me because it is important to him, and by listening I am teaching him that when he has something to say to me I will listen.  Hopefully later, when he has really important things to tell me that I NEED to hear–like that his buddy tried to get him to smoke pot or someone is bullying him–he will know that he can talk to me.

Now on to the fun stuff-the giveaway!  I know, I know I haven’t published the last couple of winners-I’ll be putting those up shortly!  But on to this one.

This giveaway starts today, August 23rd and ends at midnight EST on Sunday August 28th.

To enter, we would like to know your best tip for getting your kids or teens mentally prepared for school!

For an additional entry you can:

Tweet your  tip comment with a #GenerationGo & #BackToSchool hashtag

Don’t forget to head on over to the MVP Generation Go Facebook page to share your tip and give them a “like”! You’ll see all the great posts by the other Ambassadors-and to see their gift card giveaways as well!

*****This is a sponsored post*****

DISCLOSURE: I am an MVP Generation Go ambassador. MVP Has provided me with compensation for this post. My participation is voluntary and my opinion is always my own. The $50 Gift Card for this giveaway was provided by Kids Fun Plaza.


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  1. says

    Well, since this is our first year of school, with an entering kindergartener, we’ll see how successful our tips are. :) But we’ve been talking about school, mentioning other kids she knows who will be attending there; started the earlier bedtime routine; and held a back to school party where we also collected school supplies to donate to our local food shelf’s drive — and we talked about helping other kids while we did that.

  2. Mami2jcn says

    School visits and orientation are a good way for kids to get used to their new classroom and teacher. My kids seem much more excited about the school year once they’ve visited their class.

  3. li piquette says

    Lay out the cloths the night before .It makes the morning less stress full . If your child is fashionista you can have a little fashion show sunday nights ,and put whole outfits shoes, jewelery ,hair things togather on ahanger and week is taken care of

  4. Heather H. says

    My best tip for getting my kids mentally prepared for school is to establish a good bedtime routine so they can get a good night’s sleep every night.
    hendymartin1 at yahoo dot com

  5. Mari says

    We start to establish regular bedtimes a week before school starts so that he gets accustomed to waking up earlier. The parents on our block host a “back to school” social for the kids and the parents. The kids play and get re-aquainted and the adults will swap or donate gently used toys and clothing.

  6. says

    My son is going into first grade so I’m pretty new at this, but I have a tip from last year – if the school is new, visit as often as you can before school starts so that it’s somewhat familiar to your child. We went to events that were open to the public for the two years before my son started kindergarten and he felt like it was “his” school from the first day.

  7. amy pugmire says

    I like to do a family lesson before school starts of how we treat teacher and kids and other kids who are being picked on in school. I also like to get them in good sleeping habits as well.

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