Andrea Casper

 

Back to School: STRESS LESS vs. STRESS FULL

Consider:

 

As the beginning of a new school year draws near, be sure to consider that everyone is a year older and expectations need to be updated accordingly. Try to build in opportunities for your children to do more for themselves, which ultimately benefits you and your child. Twenty years of teaching and parenting has conditioned me to make life less complicated.

 

At our house, we are setting expectations for a sophomore and a junior in college, a senior in high school, and a third grader. The divide is wide, which is one reason we try to simplify when and where we can.

 

Here are three easy ways to get the school year off to a good start.

 

Label, label, label!

 

Get out your Sharpie marker and simplify your life by labeling all the belongings that you would like to have returned. Lost and Found works best if the items that pile up in it can be easily identified and reclaimed.

 

Make labeling items a learning opportunity.  Younger children will become familiar with their supplies if they hand them to you as you label them. The same is true for older children who can label the items themselves.

 

STRESS LESS

 

Our third grader is locker room ready. Last year, there was a mix up, and he brought home someone else’s PE shirt. No big deal! The shirt he brought home was not labeled with a name, but since his shirt was labeled “CASPER,” it was easily identified and returned to him the next day. Phew! Crisis averted.

 

STRESS FULL

 

 

We own two copies of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because someone forgot to put her name in her book. Talk about a stressful situation! You can see the first copy has been thoroughly annotated. But when you misplace your book, you have to annotate your new copy in two days, so that you can hand it in on time. The old copy was found a few days later. Ouch!

 

Lunch – Order’s Up!

 

Our children began making their own lunches in second grade. Why? Because they could! When our oldest daughter Grace started second grade, I was still a full-time stay-at-home mom and had every intention of making lunches, mainly so I could leave funny notes on their napkins.

 

Grace had other plans. She plainly informed us that she could make her own lunch. I still slipped notes in from time to time, but I never made her school lunch again. Claire, Sarah, and Stephen followed suit. On the whole, they continue to make lunches that resemble the food pyramid. 

 

STRESS LESS

 

Here are some tips for creating successful lunchtime experiences and building independence.

 

 

  • Order school lunch: Stephen’s school has a great school lunch program. To streamline things, we print out the lunch menu for the month, he highlights the items he wants to order, I place the order online, and then we post the highlighted calendar inside our pantry door. This helps me grocery shop more efficiently, and it gives him the opportunity to make choices and practice being independent.
  • Leftovers: When we have a dinner I know they love and will pack well for lunch, I make enough to guarantee that there will be leftovers.
  • Make Ahead: Being able to grab-and-go starts the morning off right. I would rather face the stand-off over the last pack of snack size Oreos the night before, instead of, five minutes before we rush out of the house to begin a new day.

 

STRESS FULL

 

These are some avoidable lunchtime stresses that I have seen as a teacher at an EC4 – 8th-grade school.

 

  • Forgotten lunches: Lunches that children help make or make themselves are forgotten at home less often. Ask the front office staff at your school about the number of forgotten lunches dropped off each day. For most families, it is a once in a while occurrence and not a big deal. Sadly, for some families, it is the norm and a stressful way for a young learner to go through the day!
  • “Did I order lunch?” OR “My mom said she ordered me lunch.”: These are two avoidable situations that I encountered as an 8th-grade homeroom teacher and mother. I was frequently asked by students if they were on the lunch/snack order list for the day. Consider creating a system your family can use so that everyone leaves the house knowing what to expect.

 

Time for a Routine Reboot

 

I am often accused of being OCD because I like to organize and plan. I like things in their place because then you can find them easily; I am a fan of color coding because it helps you organize what needs to be done and see it at a glance; and who doesn’t like their house to look like a catalog more often than it looks like a crime scene.

 

The crime scene below is courtesy of our dog, Luna. We broke routine and did not crate her that day.  Lesson: Change routines slowly!

 

 

As you prepare for the new school year, think about how you can streamline your daily routine.

 

STRESS LESS vs. STRESS FULL

 

  • Pack backpacks, lunches, PE clothes, etc, the night before.You don’t want to realize at 7:30am that your son’s uniform shoes are at the neighbor’s house, and they already left for the day. (Tip: Write a note to the teacher. It shows that you are a proactive parent.)
  • Establish and consistently keep age-appropriate bedtimes and bedtime routines. You realize that lack of sleep is turning your angels into demons. You wonder if more sleep or an exorcism is in order?
  • Make your bed every morning. Your little buddy is in class when he realizes, for the third time this month, the book he needs for the class is wrapped up in his sheets at home.
  • Use a family calendar. We share a Google calendar. Share and share alike. Free yourself of being the only one that knows what is going on and wondering how it will all happen.
  • Designate times and places that promote good study habits, including charging laptops and iPads used for school. Your daughter can’t submit her online assignment in class because her laptop just died!

 

 – 

Reproduced with permission from the Consider It blog.

 

Andrea Casper is a wife, mother, former teacher, freelance writer and editor, and now blogger. She recently retired from her long-time role as middle school language arts teacher at Christ the King Catholic School where she was well known for instilling organizational skills in her students.

 

Casper's blog, Consider It, shares practical ways to approach everyday experiences. She brings a wealth of experience and humor to her "life hacks" from her personal life with husband Chris, three college-aged CKS alumnae, and a CKS 4th grader.

CKS Advancement

 

Five Things You Will Only Find at CKS

Ready or not, school starts next week!  We love CKS for lots of reasons – great academics, amazing community, outstanding faculty and staff, beautiful facility – but the new school year got us thinking about all of those other signature CKS opportunities that our families get to experience.
 
Check out these five CKS experiences you have to look forward to this year:
 
 
Photo of students and teachers at morning assembly.
 

Morning Assembly

A CKS tradition for possibly all of our 70 years, morning assembly is a unique way the CKS community begins every day.  All of our students, faculty and staff gather for prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, mission statement, announcements and celebrations, a blessing from one of our priests –there’s honestly no better way to start the school day! Parents are welcome to attend morning assembly.

 
Picture of the CKS Auction Set-up
 

Auction 

The party with a purpose, CKS Auction is a can’t-miss event!  CKS parents love to dress up and have a good time, and this fun community building event also provides tremendous support to our school. Creative food, open bar, dancing, amazing silent and live auction items – look for your invitation in the mail soon!
 
Picture of a child at carnival on the swings
 

Carnival

A South Tampa tradition for over 50 years, the Carnival gathers all of our community on one fun family weekend in April. Rides for all age levels, great food, a Beer Garden that is always full – this event is a labor of love for CKS families. If you are new to Tampa, just wait to see how our campus is transformed in April! Check out our new promo video here!
 
This is a photo of CKS parents serving in the community.
 

Parents in Service

Service to others is one of the hallmarks of a CKS education and our parents are great role models to our students. In addition to the hundreds of volunteer hours they put into making CKS awesome, our parents have gone a step further and work as a group to serve organizations in our community. Look for your chance to serve with your CKS family in the weekly newsletter.
 
School Mass with Fr. Curtis
 

Faith

We are Catholic and we are Salesian which means we joyfully learn about and live our faith each day. It’s not just part of our name. Prayer, religious instruction, weekly Mass, Catholic identity, Salesian spirit, and a faculty and staff that nurtures our students to grow in the love of Christ, joy of knowledge, and spirit of service – it’s who we are.