Monday, August 8, 2016

We have only 10 days left of summer vacation. It's time to shift into planning for our next school year and for changes that middle school is about to bring.
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A Year of Change

Smarty is both excited and apprehensive about her next year of school. As my loyal readers know, she is skipping a grade and starting middle school this year. Everything is going to be new to her - she is going to a brand new, freshly built, school, will meet new teachers, and will have classmates that she has never met before. Well, this is actually not quite true. For once, she was in K-1 class with some of the kids who are also going to this new school. Also, three other of her future year mates live on our street. Since, this is a year of change, and we hope that Smarty will meet challenges of this year with her usual self confidence and sense of humor.

From Lazy Days to Busy Days

Our daughter had a very lazy summer. We were hoping that all this unstructured time will allow her explore different things and discover new interests. Frankly, this did not work. Smarty spent better part of her unstructured days reading. While this by itself is great (as in "at least it's not TV or video games"), I feel sometimes that Smarty uses reading as an "escape from reality" activity - something that is easy and enjoyable for her and does not require effort. She did not spend any time doing anything remotely academic - in fact, I am wondering if her handwriting went completely downhill from two months of disuse, My husband and I have somewhat different views on the conclusions from this summer - I feel that she needs more structure, and he thinks that having more structure won't help her handle unstructured times any better. We will see what we will do with her next summer. I want to hope that all this "brain vacation time" will allow her to come back to school work with renewed vigor. One can hope, right? In the meantime, we are starting our preparations for the new school year.

How Does Getting Ready for School Look Like in Our House?

  • Shifting to early bedtimes/wake up times. Smarty is a night owl. Her natural rhythm is going to bed at 10 pm and waking up at 9 am in the morning (yes, she still sleeps 10-11 hours a night). However, she needs to get up at 7 am for school. We discussed gradually pushing back her bedtime to 9 pm, but she prefers to go "cold turkey" right before school. After some consideration, we decided that this will work better for our family, especially since my husband also wants to relish later wake up times for as long as possible :)
  • Shopping for school supplies. Our school has given us a pretty detailed list for school supplies. We got about 75% of it covered in Target, but a few more things are still on our "to buy" list. We are also waiting to make a decision on a backpack - we want to know how may textbooks Smarty will have to carry back and forth, because her school won't have lockers. If it's a lot, then we will probably go for a roller backpack. Otherwise, she will get to choose her backpack at Target or Costco.
  • Buying new school clothes. My parents generously supplied most of what Smarty will need in the first warm months of school. While Smarty was staying in New Jersey with them, she picked a few pairs of shoes, and my Mom bought her cute T-shirts and shorts. Unless she hits her much needed growth spurt soon, we are all set up until colder weather arrives to California. We don't want to buy warmer clothes now, because she might actually grow a bit bigger, so we will go clothes shopping during one of teacher in service days in October.
  • Deciding on lunches. I will be honest - we are not the family that provides cute, nutritious homemade lunches to our child. We tried to do it in younger grades, and Smarty barely ate half of what we sent. So, yes, we buy prepackaged lunches, because it's the only thing that she is guaranteed to eat, or we give her money when she sees something on the school lunch menu that appeals to her. While prepackaged lunchables are not the most nutritious food, they work, and the rest of the day Smarty eats reasonably healthy, so we will stick with them for the time being.
  • Tweaking/discussing a morning routine. The good news is that this year Smarty's school will start 15 minutes later. We discussed with her how she can possibly gain up to 30 minutes of extra sleep if she is efficient with her time in the morning, and everything is organized the day before including her backpack, her clothes, and her PE kit (middle schoolers will have PE every day). We will not start with cutting her morning routine so short right away, but the goal is to work towards getting ready for school in 30 minutes, so she can get up later.
  • Setting/resetting expectations on chores. As I said, Smarty had a very relaxed summer when she got into a habit of resisting anything that she was asked to do, saying, "I do not want to". We don't want to get into endless power struggles with our "almost tween", so we sat down after getting back from our travels and discussed our family expectations. I am going to write a separate post about that some time soon.
  • Discussing homework expectations. We never had problems with homework in our house, so we have tabled this conversation until we know more what to expect in terms of homework and long term projects. We just reiterated the rule that there can be no computer games before homework is done, but, again, we are lucky not to have problems with homework completion, at least not yet.

Your Turn

Getting ready for middle school in a few steps

How does school preparation look in your house?

More Back to School Ideas?

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JL said...

How exciting! Love to hear about her new school!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

I have to say your prep is more organized, though similar to ours...buying books and supplies, thinking about modifying bedtimes, discussing schedules - I'm ready to jump in...the kids wouldn't mind taking another month off :) I'm very curious to see how Smarty likes the grade skip.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

My kids' school provides all supplies (in exchange for a donation, which is honestly more than I would spend but I hope it subsidizes for students whose parents can't pay). We haven't changed bedtimes, but we did do some back to school shopping. Still need to get some clothes for Emma and Johnny, probably, but I haven't gone through their closets closely enough yet to tell!

Ticia said...

We were all set to jump in full throttle this week, and then we had doctor's visits and that got somewhat out the window.