Back to back to school

Trent Ernst, Editor


And just like that, summer is over.

Well, not quite. Labour Day is still a week and a half away, but summer is fast evaporating.

That means that in just a few short weeks, the kids will be heading back to school.

Rather than jumping back into school flatfooted, here are some things you can do to get ready for that fateful day.

Reset your sleep schedule

If your kids are anything like mine, they’re getting to bed a couple hours later than they were in May. And as a result, they’re also waking up a couple hours later, too.

Now is the time to reset the schedule in preparation for that fateful first day of school.

Science tells us that one of the best ways to educational success, however you determine it, is to get enough sleep. Kids who get enough sleep are typically better able to focus and happier, better able to face what that life throws at them.

Poor sleep habits, on the other hand, causes people to become irritable and moody, and start to suffer cognitive delays, which is bad news in an information rich environment like school.

Don’t do it all at once. Over the next ten days or so, start working bedtime and wake up time back to where it will be in September.

Reset your schedule

If sleep is important, consistency is also important.

If meal times or other regular routines have changed over the summer vacation, reset those as well. Get the kids used to functioning during school hours.

Also, now is the time to start figuring out getting to school.

My daughter is starting grade seven this year. We live a block from the Elementary School, which is four minutes on foot from our house. But it’s 1.3 km to the Secondary School, which means it’s going to take nearly four times as long to walk to school. And, with school starting earlier there than it does for Elementary School … well, you can see that there are issues that need to be addressed. They’re not major issues, but if left until the last minute, it can become a point of stress and friction. Taking the time to figure these things out now will make things go more smoothly when September rolls around.

Organize Your Supplies

What do you need for school? Not everything you need is readily available in town, so now is the time to start thinking about that trip to Dawson or Grande Prairie for a new backpack and other school supplies.

It’s also time to think about homework. Where will homework happen in your house? At the kitchen table? In the kid’s room? Now is the time to start to get organized. Even if your kid is younger, creating a work station for home projects can help instill in them good study and work habits.

If you haven’t figured out a system for home work, now is a good time to think about it. Experts recommend a homework plan, which allows your kids the ability to prioritize assignments and schedule time for everything that needs to be done. Some people work better by doing this digitally, others prefer writing things down in a book. Figure out what works and then figure out how to get your kids to stick with it.

Set SMART goals

Why are the kids going to school? To learn. Great. Can’t get much vaguer than that.

Now might be the time for you to sit down and talk with your kids about what they want to get out of school.

This involves setting SMART goals. And yes, because it’s all in caps, it means its an acronym. What makes a goal SMART?

It should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Let’s say your kid is very disorganized, losing homework sheets, forgetting that there is homework until five minutes before bedtime. To say “get organized” is not a very SMART goal.

But to say that “I will organize my backpack by creating a folder or binder for each of my classes with places to keep my assignments, notes, and homework. After my backpack is organized, I will spend 10 minutes each day when I get home (during the school year when school is in session) to go through the items in my backpack to make sure they are in the proper location. I will then dispose of any items I do not need or that do not belong in my backpack.” is a SMART goal. (From

Start Strong and Continue

Rather than leave everything to luck and happenstance, be organized. Before school starts, help your child pick out the three outfits (school starts on Wednesday the first week) for that week of school.

Create a rough plan for school lunches. If your kids hate sandwiches, figure out alternatives before the night before.

Get into the habit of packing lunches the night before.

A “Get ready for school!” list might be a good idea for younger kids, and even for older kids that are not organized.

What your list has on it will be determined by your kids, but it could look something like this:

Have you…

  • Made your bed?
  • Fully Dressed (including socks)?
  • Eaten breakfast?
  • Brushed your hair?
  • Brushed your teeth?
  • Washed your face?
  • Packed your lunch?
  • Grabbed your homework?
  • Checked the weather?

If so, you’re ready to go!