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School Health and Safety

How to Prepare for the Back to School Season


Julie Morgenstern

Author and Organizational Expert

It’s that time of year again: back to school. For parents, it can be stressful trying to peel kids away from the vacation mindset, but New York Times best-selling author Julie Morgenstern says the secret to back-to-school success is simple.

“Back to school prep doesn’t have to be overwhelming or all fall on the parents,” she says. “Have fun with the process!”

Fun and (organized) games

“Turn shopping for supplies into a scavenger hunt with your kids so you’re dividing the work and including them in the process,” she suggests. “Turn unpacking the bags into a receiving line, with parents handing the items to the kids for them to set up their room and backpack.”

Morgenstern’s newest book, “Time to Parent,” is filled with advice on organizing the kids. One point Morgenstern makes is that relating to your kids should be the priority. “It’s important to relate to our kids in their world rather than providing, arranging, and teaching them at every turn,” she says. “Our greatest opportunity for that comes by working with them instead of trying to do everything for them.”

Time management

Morgenstern also believes it’s never too early to teach time management skills. “Time management is a life skill that enables us to achieve our goals in anything that we want to do. It’s a critical part of back to school prep. If you aren’t a great time manager yourself, don’t be intimidated. Just learn right alongside your kid.”

Part of getting a handle on time management is having a system. “Parents should set aside time when they won’t be distracted. Meet with each of your kids and ask them to define what success in school means. Then, together make a list of the systems needed to help the days go smoother. For example, a system for their backpack, for their locker, for tracking homework, and for organizing their bedroom. Design the systems together, so that your kid has ownership of the solutions.”

A plan for every age

Morgenstern stresses that kids have different organizational needs at different ages, but the most important aspect of getting organized for school is doing it together. “It’s a great opportunity to spend time with your kids,” she says, “and to talk about the process of getting back into the school mindset.”

Jeffrey Somers, [email protected]

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