The Real Deal on Back-to-School Prep

The Real Deal on Back-to-School Prep

Get some new ideas with these back-to-school tips from real parents.


Get Ready for Class
Back to school? That’s elementary, my dear, for parents of 5th graders, who’ve been there, done that half-a-dozen times already. What did they learn? Here we share the best tips from real moms — and a teacher — on how to get your kids ready for the fall.

Keep Kids Challenged
To keep your kids challenged, have them spend some summer downtime reading and reviewing basic math. (We can hear your kids sigh from here, but it will be worth it.) Also, ensure that your kids stay on top of their summer assignments. “Setting up an expectation that there will be work over the summer is really important,” says Alexandra Owens, a New Jersey-based mom to Catie and Gillian. “Both my kids get substantial summer assignments, and they can’t wait till the last minute to tackle them."

Dabble in Extracurriculars
With countless hours to fill during those endless summer days, all too soon you’ll hear that familiar refrain: There’s nothing to do. “There’s plenty to do,” says Owens. Some options include summer camp, a sport, a swim club, or the library’s summer reading program. “Summertime is a great opportunity to try things out and see what sticks,” says Owens, whose 6th grader Catie is experimenting with drama and a few voice lessons. “One or two lessons aren’t cost-prohibitive, and it lets your kids discover where their real interests lie.”

Defuse Their Stress
Back-to-school stress? Frequently, it’s easy enough to defuse it with some solid parent-kid conversations. “I think prepping a kid happens year-round,” says California-based single mom Monika Hengesbach. “The biggest challenge I remember from school is trying to fit in. So I try to be a safe harbor, someone she can say anything to.” Hengesbach broaches topics like bullying before the incidents arise. “We talk about how she would handle things like that, where the other person is coming from, trying to get to the root of the experiences. It’s about trying to keep that door open, being that safety net.”

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Re-establish Bedtime
Schedule? What schedule? If your kid’s free-floating on bedtime by the summer’s end, it’s best to re-establish routine early. Start having the kids go to bed at their regular school-time schedule – and have them wake up, eat breakfast and be ready to go out the door on time, too.

Buddy Up
Back-to-school means back to clubs and cliques. To keep her kid socially savvy, Hengesbach ensures that daughter Anni gets plenty of friend time throughout the summer. “I reach out to my daughter and say, ‘Hey, why don’t you invite this friend or that friend over?’” says Hengesbach. “She’s headed to 6th grade, so they might not end up in the same classes at all, but having that familiar face or two to look for in the hallways before class or compare notes with, it’s so important. And then she’ll feel more free to get to know new kids and make more friends.”

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