It’s official: families apparently plan to spend, on average, $179 when getting their kids all ready for school this time around–$131 on clothes and the rest, $48, on supplies. But that’s all chump change when electronics enter the mix. Indeed, a recent survey of more than 4,000 consumers found that 63% are thinking in terms of $500, while 20% figure on spending between $500 and $1,000. Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that the average family will spend, on average, $688.62 this season.
No wonder then that the back-to-school shopping season is said to be second only to Christmas in terms of dollars spent, with NRF saying that 2012 K-12 spending will hit the $30.3 billion mark and more than $83 billion when college shopping is included.
And merchants are ready,–both the online and brick and mortar variety—and have been for several weeks now, despite the fact that August is still in its infancy. Such retailers as Target, Kohl’s, Wal-Mart, and Staples have been tempting consumers with sales galore much of the summer. And speaking of Staples, be sure to take advantage of their Recycle a Binder and Save Program. Just bring in your child’s well-used binder and $2 will be applied toward the purchase of a new one—on top of all their discounted school supplies.
At the same time, shop with Box Tops for Education in mind; those clippable coupons are on hundreds of products. The program has already given over $475 million to our nation’s schools since 1996. Just snip the coupons and then pass them along to the school of your choice. This applies to all your online shopping, too, except that your “box top” will be sent automatically. Each one is worth $.10.
Meanwhile, before those yellow buses start making their runs, make sure that your child is properly immunized according to Pennsylvania law. No excuses, as you’re given a pass only if your child’s doctor puts it in writing that a vaccination might be harmful or if you “object in writing to the immunization on religious grounds or on the basis of a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.”
Then starting with day one, put homework front and center. By valuing education, you set the standard. And have no doubt, making the work of schools a priority starts at home and that means getting assignments completed every day—correctly and with care—along with test prep.
After school, send your child out for some energizing physical activity, following up with end-of-day talk and a healthy snack, such as peanut butter-smeared apple slices. Then get your child working, hardest subject first and so on down the line, in a quiet, well-lit place. For many, that’s the kitchen table where you can watch out for daydreaming and/or frustration. Plus, keep school supplies on hand, everything from a dictionary, thesaurus, and daily newspaper to poster board, sharpener, and three-hole punch.
Once these essentials are in place, oversee the work, don’t do it—not even when everybody’s tired, you know the answers, could get it done so quickly, could make it right. Instead . . .
- Check your child’s assignment book faithfully and have teachers sign it every day if homework isn’t faithfully recorded.
- See that carefully completed assignments are placed in a special folder for easy access the next day.
- Don’t buy into the “We have no homework tonight” or “I did it all in school.” Insist on seeing the work whenever, wherever it was completed.
- If no written assignment is due the next day, there’s always textbook note-taking, the making of flash cards, and/or reviewing to be done.
- Besides hitting the off switch on all MP3 players, video games, TVs, also screen phone calls during schoolwork time to avoid interruptions. This should be quiet time for the entire household.
- Encourage short breaks (phone calls, snack, exercise, TV) between assignments–never in the middle of one. For hour-long programs, let your child watch half, recording the rest for later viewing.
- When you can’t help with a homework question/problem, have your child call a classmate and/or see the teacher before class begins. If this happens frequently, contact the appropriate teacher.
- When absent, s/he should call a reliable classmate to collect and bring homework and needed textbooks home or leave them in the main office for you to pick up.
Then continue supporting your child’s efforts. When asked to proofread an assignment, be sure he’s read it out loud several times and already made improvements in content and mechanics. Then, just place a light check mark in the margin beside any line where there’s an error. One check means one error; two checks equal two errors, etc. To catch misspellings, he should read the piece backward—starting with the very last word, thus isolating spelling from content. Meanwhile, hand back for a redo any work that’s incomplete or sloppy.
And, along the way, remember to ask, “What did you learn today?” instead of “How was school today?” Talk frequently about topics under study and see homework as an extension of the classroom, an opportunity to practice skills and prepare for tests. And, as you promote a can-do, Little Engine that Could attitude, praise hard work and celebrate improvement. Be consistent in your standards and expectations, keeping in touch with teachers when concerns arise. Finally, remember that kids need about nine hours of sleep a night, so set a reasonable bedtime, with reading part of the nighttime ritual.
Achievement, after all, must be earned, and that’s what getting back to school is really all about.