Back to School Guide 2016

Summer may seem like it is still in full swing, but sorry children – playtime is over! It’s time to head back to school, and we’re here to help. Parents and disappointed kids, get ready for the start of a new semester with tips and tricks from our experts!

Back to school with baby on board

Getting your big kid off to a great start when there’s a new baby in the house

Back-to-school season can be a bumpy ride for parents at every stage—especially when there’s a new younger sibling riding along. Calming your older child’s back-to-school nerves is harder when a needy infant is competing for your attention. Numerous new-school year events, like meet the teacher night or a classroom tour, are made more complex with a little one in your care. Should one parent attend or both? Do we need a sitter? What if the baby screams the entire time? And schlepping a squirming baby through complex pick-up and drop-off routines is enough to make you long for the simplicity of summer break. Here’s how to conquer back-to-school with a baby in tow.  

Be a paperwork pro

Mountains of baby laundry and sleepless nights—and you’re supposed to complete kindergarten worksheets, too? Count on it. Most schools send home piles of paperwork which will likely require parental assistance, even at the earliest grade levels. Put together a paperwork plan before school starts, and you won’t find yourself drowning in permission slips, homework sheets or reading worksheets in a few weeks. 

Pick spots to store different types of send-homes: Once-yearly reference materials like the school handbook and class contact list, monthly worksheets and calendars, and daily work (a hanging wall file with several slots works well). When you clean out your schoolchild’s backpack each night, you will be able to swiftly put everything in its place. 

Consider pre-printing address labels with grandparents’ addresses and storing them close at hand along with envelopes and stamps, so that when your child brings home her tenth rendition of the family cat, you can pop it in the mail for her admiring fans instead of filing it in the recycle bin.

Avoid drop-off drama 

Don’t show up unprepared. Step one for smooth school scheduling, especially with multiple children in your care, is figuring out school day logistics before the big day. Find out your child’s exact drop-off and pick-up times (yes, in the school world, there’s a difference between 9:02 and 9:05), where parents should park, how much time you’ll need to get there, and what to expect throughout the process. 

A few common queries to work out: Do parents walk kids onto the playground each morning and greet teachers there in the afternoon, or do parents stay in their cars and pull through a curbside loop for drop-off and pick-up? Are parents allowed to walk young children into their classrooms and stay if children are upset? Are younger siblings allowed to play on the school’s playground equipment before and after school? Can your child’s school entryway easily accommodate a stroller, or will you need to walk up stairs? (Though some schools allow these things, some don’t, so don’t assume—ask.) If the information isn’t readily available on the school’s website, call the office or search online for the school’s Facebook page where you can post a question.

Transportation station

Once you have the necessary info at hand, devise your family school-transportation plan. If you’ll be walking an older sibling to school or into the classroom with a baby in tow, bring a stroller or baby carrier to make things easier, along with comfort items for the baby (pacifiers, a blankie) and perhaps a snack or two. 

Most likely, no matter your school’s policies on pick-up and drop-off, you’ll spend some time waiting around, either in a line of cars or outside at your school’s designated parent pick up spot. To ease the wait for your littlest one, consider storing baby entertainment in the car: a few board books, soft toys, rattles, and teethers can make the difference between a pleasant pick-up or a screaming nightmare. Remember to pack an after-school snack for your schoolchild, too—after some nourishing noshing, he’ll be in better spirits and more inclined to transition smoothly into an afternoon spent with younger sibling(s).

Malia Jacobson is a nationally published 
journalist and mom of three. She’s survived 
a few drop-off disasters with multiple kids 
in tow and lives to tell the tale.

Back to School Fashion

Making sure they look good on a budget

It’s almost the end of summer, the weather is turning cooler, the days are getting shorter and thoughts of getting the kiddies back to school is on every parent’s mind. If you haven’t started your back to school shopping yet, don’t fret, there is still time and some great savings to be had. Check out the top 10 list of shopping for school clothes without breaking the bank.

Happy Shopping!

Figure out a budget and stick to it!
If you have more than one child, you know this isn’t easy. But to be fair, you should set yourself a limit per child.

Update their wardrobe.
If you are creative, see what items you can make look new again by adding flare or some patches. Even shoes can receive an update with some fabric glue and a little imagination. Check out Joann Fabrics or Michaels for some fun and easy craft ideas. Make it fun by getting everyone involved in the process.

Shop later.
Sales are usually better if you can wait until October when the stores are making room for the Christmas inventory.

Sales online.
Go to your favorite store websites to get the latest on great sales and discounts.

Check out thrift stores and used clothing.
You’ll feel good supporting a worthwhile organization, like the Salvation Army or Goodwill, and decrease the strain on your wallet at the same time. Besides, you can let your teens know that they will probably have a one of a kind item.

Shop Resale/Consignment stores.
Resale shops are a great way to trade in gently used items for newer items. Some resale shops will give cash up front, so you can turn right around and make purchases on other items. Consignment stores take a little longer to get your money back so this means items may take time to sell. 

Use Groupon and similar groups.
This is a great way to get immediate savings on everything from clothing to school supplies.

Stay out of the higher priced stores.
Remember you can get more with less, however, if your child insists on those brand name sneakers, you should let them know this is the only new item they can get for the new school season.

Take inventory of your kid’s closet.
Little ones definitely grow out of their clothes fast, but some things may be recyclable. For teens and tweens, some of their older pairs of jeans may still fit, but need some mending or embellishment. Since ripped jeans are still in, they are already in fashion!

…every parent wants to give their children the world, but keep in mind the difference between what kids need for school and what they just want. Keep a list, and if you can’t get the want right now, save it as a reward for good grades or a gift for upcoming holidays and birthdays.

Advice from the Principal's office

Dr. Seth W. Kopald, Head of School at Daycroft Montessori

1095 N Zeeb Rd | 734-930-0333 |

What’s the best way parents can help with homework? Parents should ask their children if they have homework every day and show an interest in their work. Having a consistent time of day and removing distractions such as phones and Netflix is helpful as well.

Enough with the apples. What’s the best Teacher Appreciation gift students can give you? First off, parents can let teachers know how much they appreciate them and give specific examples of how they help your child grow and be successful. In the same vein, teachers get lots of “stuff.”  I believe they would appreciate a note from the student, thanking them for something or sharing their favorite lesson.

What happens if a parent has a challenge with a teacher or school material? What are helpful hints to facilitate resolution? Parents are encouraged to talk directly to teachers about their concerns. Communication is effective if both parties are interested in a solution rather than pointing fingers. Know that teachers are more open and responsive when we approach them with respect and from a calm place.  If you are angry or frustrated, talk about the anger and frustration rather than from the anger and frustration; don’t let either take you over while you are having the conversation. 

Ann Arbor has a pretty active home-schooling community. What are advantages of attending school with other kids? There is no perfect learning environment that fits all children. Some children may thrive best in an home-school environment. One advantage of attending school with peers is having more opportunities to collaborate without adults always running the show. Children need time to play together, sort out their own rules, and let off steam. Many home-school families create social groups for this purpose as well. In addition, when children learn together they co-create ideas, invent their own theories, and challenge each other to grow.