29 Back-to-School Activities for Busy Parents
Want to make the transition smooth and simple, and maybe even fun?
We can help. There are many things you can do to reintroduce your kids to the routine of the school year.
My Kids’ Adventures searched the Internet to find things busy parents can do to plan for the upcoming school year. In this article we’ll share our favorites.
Why Plan Back-to-School Activities?
It’s difficult for parents, as well as kids, to make the transition from the laid-back summer months to the schedule of the school year. It feels like we just settled into the summer routine of camp, playdates and later bedtimes, and now we have to go back to homework, the headaches of carpooling and all those after-school activities.
Make a calendar with envelopes that hold treats and incentives. Do the countdown for the two weeks leading up to the first day of school. Your kids will anticipate a surprise each day, which will build enthusiasm, while easing any back-to-school anxiety your kiddos may have.
Here are more things you can do to help with the transition.
#1: Get Organized
There are plenty of personalized school supplies you and your young students can make together. For starters, make an organizational binder and fresh book covers to start the year off on the right foot.
Personalized School Binder
The printables include different cover pages, grade pages for the spine and a survey for each grade with a place for a photo. What a fun tool to use to track and look at each year.
Print a 2014 calendar, and check back later in the year to download and add the calendar for 2015.
When you personalize a book cover, you let your personality shine.
Check out Courtney Cerruti’s DIY: Back-to-School Book Covers on the Creativebug blog. Use a paper grocery bag to make three different kinds of covers: chalkboard, polka dot and bubble wrap. And this is just the beginning.
Once you have the foundations of book covering down pat, tap into your creativity. Anything goes! Also, use these techniques to create special giftwrap for a book.
Denim Notebook Cover
Older kids may enjoy taking the book cover craft up a notch. Cover a notebook in an old pair of blue jeans like this one on Planet Forward. Use just the pockets or cover with denim first. Then decorate with stickers, paint, whatever you choose.
Kids can keep this notebook for their favorite subject or use it as a journal—pockets for pens and pencils included.
Wrap up your basic supplies with this no-sew pencil case from Inner Child Fun and backpack tags from Lolly Jane. Add some fresh pencils, paper and whatever else is on your child’s supply list, and you’re good to go.
#2: Get Crafty
Whether or not your kids get long homework assignments, they should have a place set aside for schoolwork. Have them do some fun back-to-school crafts to make the space their own.
Here are two different school signs you can make with your child.
The original intent of this one is décor or a teacher craft, but also works as an “I’m doing homework” sign to put on your child’s door.
Put these on your kids’ door or your front door, as Amanda does, if your neighborhood kids drop by frequently.
These crafts will get everyone excited for the school year, and may even make homework a little more fun.
#3: Get Creative in the Kitchen
Whether it’s a healthy breakfast, a fun lunch or scrumptious snacks, nourish your favorite students.
Some of the ideas are silly, others are funny and still there are some that look almost too cute to eat.
#4: Get Excited About Lunch
There are many ways to personalize your child’s lunch.
Choose the fabrics that best suit your child and work side by side to put it together.
Start saving your milk jugs, and create a milk jug lunchbox for each member of the family.
Another way to ease into the school year is to send a thoughtful note for your kids to find at lunchtime.
Of course, you can always jot something special on a piece of paper and stick it in your child’s lunchbox or write a note directly on a paper napkin. The message is what’s important! The fact that it’s pretty or cool is just a bonus.
#5: Get Sentimental
The best way to get your kids excited about the new school year is to start a back-to-school tradition.
There are items you can make as a family to ease the transition and remind your little one of you.
Want something simple? Make pocket hearts to send with your child to school. It’s an easy craft and you’ll be in your child’s pocket as support all day.
All you need is yarn, tags and family photos. This is something you can update every year, even when your child is too grown up to take it to school.
There are many things you can do to start a new tradition as a family.
Take a first day of school photo every year. The Outlaw Mom has instructions for how to make a special sign to go with each grade’s picture. The first and final day of school interviews, below, can be tucked away in a special place to be cherished for years to come.
There are interview printables on the site from kindergarten to 12th grade. They include a place to document your child’s growth, as well as a photo for posterity. Make this even more fun by adding a self-portrait drawn by the child and some of his or her best stories and assignments from the school year.
An alternative to the interview is to make a time capsule with your child, as Michelle McInerney, MollyMoo, suggests. She provides ideas for items you can include and some important ‘favorite’ questions to ask. Note: You can also put those interview questions into the time capsule.
Fill a small shoebox, old coffee jar, biscuit tin or container with mementos. When the time capsule is filled, decorate the outside with your child’s name, date and adornments like stickers, beads or pictures.
Create a time capsule for each child or make a combo for the whole family, including parents! Make and “hide” your time capsule at the beginning of the school year. Then look through it before the next year starts. See how much your child has grown and changed in the year.
Some Final Thoughts…
However you commemorate the new school year, make it a special time for the whole family. Plan ahead and start some new traditions. That way, you’ll make a seamless transition into a successful new school year.
What do you think? How do you get ready for the new school year? What are your favorite back-to-school family traditions? We’d love to hear from you. Please share your comments or photos in the box below.
Jennifer Ballard is the associate editor for My Kids’ Adventures where her past experience as a Cubmaster, birthday party entrepreneur, marketing writer and mom of two boys fits together and finds relevance. Other posts by Jennifer Ballard »