August 1, 2013

Back to school: tips for success (part 1)

2 minutes
Advice for host families

I know there are technically more than 6 weeks of summer left, but depending on what part of the country you live in, it could be just a couple of weeks until your kids start heading back to school.  This year, don’t let this major annual transition period take you or your family by surprise.  Get a head start on organization and planning and make sure you and your au pair (or other childcare provider) are properly preparing your kids for the new school year, so back to school can be a fun, exciting and stress-free time for the whole family.
To help get the back to school season off to a great start, we’ve compiled a list of our best back to school tips from our collective years of experience.  We have also tried to include ways to involve your au pairs to both help you get organized and get the kids excited. But don’t worry; we won’t overwhelm you with a huge to-do list.  Instead, check back each week from now through the end of August for a handy tip-a-day list that you and your au pair can complete that week.  We hope these ideas will help your family enjoy the end of summer and inspire you to look forward to heading back to school.
August 1:  Make a summer bucket list
You’ve probably heard of people making bucket lists of their life-long dreams, but why not encourage kids to live life to the fullest right now in small ways?  This is a great activity for your au pair to do with your kids to get them to stop and think about what they enjoy most about summer.  Encourage creativity by providing some old magazines the kids can use to cut out images of things they enjoy—from ice cream cones, to collecting shells at the beach, to playing in sprinklers or eating dinner outside.  Younger kids can make a visual bucket list collage, or simply cut out the pictures and put them in a bucket.  Over dinner, discuss their wish lists and decide on a few fun activities that you can commit to doing before school starts.
August 2:  Review summer reading lists
I don’t know why, but even kids who love reading seem to put off their summer reading homework until the very last moment.  Well, it’s time to dust off that old summer reading list (or excavate it from the bottom of your child’s backpack where it’s been since the last day of school) and hit the library.  Ask your au pair to take the kids either to your local library or favorite bookstore and make sure everyone has all the books they need.  Once that’s done, have them help the kids plan out how much they need to read per day to complete their requirements. They may even want to create a chart the kids can check off each day.  If the kids need some extra encouragement, perhaps some of their bucket list items would make good rewards for meeting their weekly goals?
Stay tuned for next week’s tips, but if you can’t wait for more, visit us on Facebook or Twitter for a daily back to school tip each weekday.