Time flies when you are having fun! Or, maybe you are like some who have been counting down the days until the school bell rings again. Regardless of your perspective, school will be back in session soon. Are you ready? Are your kids? Either way, it’s time to prepare our children, as well as ourselves, to go back to school. Here are a few hints to conquer the back to school blues.
One of the major hurdles I hear from parents about getting kids back into school mode, is getting them back to the right sleep schedule. “It is important to get your kids back on a schedule about a week before school begins,” explains Karen Killan, a Carmel resident, mother of two and teacher of over 20 years. “That is the hardest part as a parent and a teacher, reinforcing those curfews and setting those alarm clocks.” So don’t wait too long – start now. It can’t hurt to start getting everyone to bed early and, in turn, practice getting up early. This may even include you. Does this really work? Who knows, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Although, if you have teenagers, you may just want to skip this and move on since they will likely just roll their eyes and go back to texting their friends when you call for bed at 9 p.m.
Next up, school supplies. Once you get your (dreaded) supply list from your school, it’s off to the local discount store to find the best deals. There are several options, but it is easiest to look to major competitors such as Wal-Mart, Target and Meijer. My opinion is that Wal-Mart has the best deals; Target has a more stylish selection; and Meijer has both deals and selection. You really can’t go wrong at any of these trusted stores. Killan also informed me that Office Max, Office Depot and some of the other stores, such as Target, may possibly carry the Carmel Clay Schools supply list. “The list is usually right by the school supplies,” said Killan. “It is very convenient.”
If you want cute, reasonably priced, personalized backpacks, LLBean or Land’s End are great online options. They are durable and cute as pie. And both offer standard sizes as well as junior sizes for the smaller kiddos (see photo).
But let’s be honest, the most important task (and most blissful according to our kids) is new school clothes. Unfortunately, this is also the most costly of all our school preparations, and likely the most stressful if you have teens or high maintenance five-year-old little girls like mine. It’s also difficult to keep up with our children’s growth spurts, forcing us to buy new each year. Did you know that after children reach two years old, they grow on average 2.5 inches per year until adolescence? This makes for fun times to be had each year – wreaking havoc on our pocketbooks. Nonetheless, a few local places that may offer reasonable solutions for your children’s clothing needs are Kohl’s Department Store, Old Navy, Children’s Place, Gymboree, Justice and Limited Too. When it comes to teenage clothing, The Gap, Abercrombie and Fitch, Aeropostale, Hollister and American Eagle are time tested options and make the top of the list. For those who like the one stop shop, don’t forget about those big box department stores like JCPenney, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Sears. Some great deals can be found for every member of your family.
Though this time of year can be stressful, you are not alone out there. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), “Consumers plan to increase spending by 16% to a total of $55.12 billion, the biggest amount since at least 2003, for combined back to school shopping for college students and school-age children in kindergarten through grade 12.” That is a lot of loot, folks. What’s the reason for this? The Commerce Department data showed that personal income and wages were up this year.
If new clothes are not in your budget, don’t worry. One great local option is Once Upon a Child, which is a child’s consignment store that sells gently used clothing at great prices. You can find name brand clothing for the fraction of the price. With locations in Carmel and Fishers, you are not far from a bargain.
You may be asking yourself – how does a mom of a five-year-old and three-year-old have a clue what to expect. I don’t. That’s why I asked experts like Tiffany and Brooks Vossler of Carmel, who have mastered the art of school preparation with their three children. Their youngest son, Grant, is in elementary school. Their middle son, Hayden, is in middle school and their daughter, Karlie, will be a senior in high school. Three different schools. Two different genders. They certainly have their hands full, but make it through every year.
So what’s their secret? “I try and take each of my kids out on a one-on-one date,” explains Tiffany. “We go to lunch and buy one special outfit for school. My mom used to do that when I was in school. I enjoy continuing the tradition with my family.” Tiffany went on to say that having a child at Woodbrook Elementary is easy because you can purchase the PTO’s school supply packets that have all the necessary supplies. “I’m all about convenience.” The middle school and high school, however, are a bit more difficult and the list is more extensive and expensive. “There are yearbook fees, book rental fees, spirit wear and gym uniform purchases, PTO fees, lunch fees… the list seems to go on and on.” Tiffany offers one piece of advice: “Once you get your paperwork, fill it out immediately, and then you’ll be all ready to go at registration.”
Once you get the shopping out of the way, don’t forget the truly most important thing, your children’s health. Make sure all your child’s immunizations are up to date. If you don’t know what you need, all medical forms can be found at www.1.ccs.k12.in.us, along with a plethora of other back to school information.
But honestly, I had totally forgotten about the most essential back to school preparations until I spoke to Woodbrook Principal Kelly Davis. “A few weeks before school starts you should start reading with your kids. Encourage reading every day, and be positive about school starting.” Davis also agreed with Killan that kids are out of their routine in the summer, and getting them back on track is challenging. Davis also has a daughter, Darcy, who will be entering kindergarten at Woodbrook. “She is really excited about going to school.” Davis explained that she has been preparing Darcy by talking about school often, helping her anticipate new friends and being respectful to the teachers. With Davis and I both having kindergarteners, we agreed that we are probably more nervous than our kids.
Principal Davis has also been preparing her school for opening day. “The beginning of school and the end of school are our busiest times,” said Davis. “As a principal, we work on staffing and new hires, as well as day-to-day operations and building schedules.” Davis said her main focus is on school goals – such as literacy and math data.
Finally, if you want to ask the experts – the teacher themselves – most Carmel elementary schools have a parent orientation night as well as kindergarten orientations for those students enrolling for the first time. All three middle schools and the one and only Carmel High School, have individual class orientations for both returning and new students. Visit www1.ccs.k12.in.us/district/home for information on each school in the Carmel Clay School district.
Keep these little helpful hints in mind and don’t fret. In a few short weeks, it will all be over and you will be able to relax. Yeah, right.