Setting up Back-To-School Success

Getting Ready For The New School Year

BacktoSchoolGoing back to school is very exciting. And while it sometimes seems that the parents might be a bit more eager for it than the kids, the truth is that there are a lot of things to do—both for the children and their folks. Some of them are more an effort to mentally prepare (especially if it’s a new school), while the rest are financial in nature.

Mental prep

It’s important for the whole family to get into the proper mindset for the school year. Here are a few ways to do it.

  • Routines—Most families have different schedules during the summer than the school year, with later bedtimes and fewer activities. Consider changing to a more school-like schedule a week or two before the first day, including getting up at the same time, and going through the school year morning routine.
  • Scouting—If your kid is attending a new school, head up there with her before the first day to help her find her way around and meet her new teachers. You can also check into any activities of interest and just generally get used to how things will work.
  • Options—To help give your child a bit of confidence, let him make some choices along the way. Maybe take him out and let him choose new clothes for the first day, or maybe a new activity to join, like a sport or band. The idea is let him feel as though he has some control in the process, rather than just being told how things will be.
  • Get (and stay) involved—Studies have shown time and again that children whose parents are involved in their educations do better and are more successful. This is especially important if you’ve just had a PCS and your children won’t be attending a school run by the Department of Defense. If that’s the case, you’ll want to call the school and let them know your family’s situation. Try to speak with not only the teacher, but also principal and even counselor. The goal is ease the transition as much as possible and ensure your children have the support they need.

Money matters

Getting ready for school can be costly, depending on where you live and just how many kids you have. Thankfully, there are ways to save.

  • Current inventory—Odds are good that you have things from last year that are still good for this one. After all, things like crayons, glue, and other supplies don’t always have to be brand new. Check to see what you have and only buy what you need.
  • Looking the part—Clothes can be a bit trickier when kids are older, as last year’s fashions might not be good enough for this year. But don’t let that cause you to go over budget; find a balance between getting what they want and spending smart. Younger kids are easier to buy clothes for, as you can swap with friends and family, or even head to a thrift store. Why spend $25 on a pair of jeans that will only last your 8-year-old six months or so? Regardless, don’t immediately head to the mall or huge department store. Check out ads and even online options, as you might find better deals (and shopping online means no crowds!).
  • Save on taxes—Several states and large cities have special tax-free shopping days for school supplies and related items. Depending on how much you spend, you could save a few hundred dollars. Some places even offer computers and other electronics tax free on those days, so check here to see if there is one in your area.

While it is still up to your kid to get good grades, following these tips can help start off the year with a gold star.

Mark Dye

About the author: Mark Dye

Mark Dye has been writing articles, recording podcasts, and putting together books on personal finance for nearly a decade. His work has been recognized by the American Bankers Association and the Institute for Financial Literacy, and received an 2011 APEX Grand Award for Writing. Follow Mark on Google+.

Contact: Mark Dye


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