As my son gets ready for 1st grade I’m in the middle of the back-to-school flurry. But nothing beats the flurry of last year when he entered into Kindergarten. Elementary School is a whole new beast compared to Preschool. Sure, he went five days a week in VPK, but they were only half days, now he was staying until 3 pm plus all his after-school activities and homework! This was not only going to be a shock to him but also to me. But this year I am more prepared from all the mistakes I made last year!
These are the biggest mistakes I made when my son entered into Elementary School and here are some tips on what I learned.
Shopping for school supplies during No Tax weekend! Does your state have this? It sounded like a great idea, save on all his school supplies… Oh, what little I knew. My first mistake during this endeavour was not to go as soon as the stores opened on the very first day (I don’t even remember why I didn’t because it doesn’t sound very much like me!). As I ventured back into the “Seasonal Section” I noticed many areas empty. Empty? How is Target out of anything?! Oh, yes, Target was out of the folders I needed, of course in the color I needed, even crayons, sanitizer, and glue! Surely Walmart would be better prepared, so I trek my 5-year old and 2-year old back into the car and head over to the extremely busy yet also empty store. How is this possible?!? Well, I can tell you it is. As I try very hard not to start to melt down as my children are starting to do, we head to the office supply store where I find myself spending MUCH more on the items I needed than if I just would have paid TAX!
What I learned: Just pay the tax and go when there are no crazy crowds. This year we headed there before No Tax weekend and not only was everything at Target, but there were no meltdowns (from me either) and Kade actually enjoyed picking out his color folders and notebooks without 20 people trying to reach over him. In and out in 20 minutes.
Buying his backpack and lunchbox too early. I was SO excited about my son starting Elementary School (just a little bit of the teacher dork in me) that halfway through the summer I fell in love with the perfect backpack and lunchbox so I not only bought them but I also got them embroidered with his initials so they were ready for the first day. Ummmm, yeah, so there is a size requirement for a Kindergarten book bag and you should also know your lunchbox plan (which is next) before you invest in these things because neither worked out! There went that money. I ended up going a week before school started to buy the correct size (that would hold a full size folder) book bag and rushing it to a friend to embroider.
What I learned: Buy the regular size backpack they can grow into and don’t get sucked into these adorable perfectly sized ones. Plus, if you buy a durable one they can grow into then you can save money the next year when they don’t need another book bag!
Not having a lunch plan. Kade’s Preschool included lunch but I was determined in Kindergarten that I would pack him a healthy organic lunch. I even went and bought a specific lunch box system which of course didn’t end up fitting in the original lunch box I bought, going back to mistake number two. I thought I had a lunch plan– just ask him what he’d like to eat in the morning, pack it and go. Not so much. Not only was I constantly rushing to get his lunch made, he always said the same thing but then would come home with half his lunch not eaten.
What I learned: Create a menu with pre-packed organic, homemade lunchables he can choose from. We will just grab and go in the morning! (Post about lunchables to come.)
Luckily, I did do some things right and I urge you to do them also.
I joined the PTA. As a former teacher I knew how helpful the PTA could be and I also knew it was one of the only ways I could get the insider information I always strive to learn. As soon as I saw the table at orientation I signed up the whole family including the grandparents! I also signed up for as many things as I could volunteer for. I’m a bit of a volunteer junky.
I became Co-Room Mom. Being involved with the classroom and activities were very important to me. Even my mom, Abuela, volunteered for the Holiday Projects. It allowed me to plan events for the class, be in the class every week, and create a rapport with his teacher I couldn’t have had otherwise.
I signed my son up for Extracurriculars. I signed him up for every after school activity he was interested in. It was a great way for him to feel part of the school outside of the classroom and he was able to make friends with children that were not in his class. He loved these fun, new experiences and on the days I needed the extra time for my daughter to sleep during her nap I could get to the school a little later.
Learn from my mistakes and successes, because I’m sure I will have a whole new list this year as he starts 1st grade!