It’s back-to-school time…and just the idea of it leaves some parents stressed at the thought of shopping for school supplies, packing lunches, and filling out all that paperwork….and and and! But it turns out, there’s an easy fix: let the kiddos help. Child development expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa says letting kids help with back-to-school prep helps them take responsibility for their learning and makes them less likely to be shocked on the first day. Here’s her age-by-age guide for getting the kids involved.
Preschool and kindergarten - Young students can help by shopping around the house for school supplies, looking for items you may already have so you don’t have to buy new ones. Parents can teach little ones about reusing and recycling and review basic addition and subtraction, like if the list asks for five pencils and the child only finds three. Young kids may also benefit from a practice run, having a day where they wake up as if they were going to school, so it’s not as much of a shock on the actual first day.
First to fourth grade - These students can also shop for school supplies around the house and have a practice morning, but they can also help make a plan for their lunch with healthy options. Kids this age can get school clothes organized and make sure everything fits, and they can help read store ads and look for back-to-school deals.
Fifth to eighth grade - These older kids can do all the stuff the younger ones can, but you can also give middle schoolers a budget to spend on school supplies and clothes so they learn to manage money. Ask them what foods they want in their lunch and come up with a plan for when they’ll be packing it. Set up expectations about sleep and wake times, as well as homework expectations so everyone’s on the same page.
High school - Students this age should be planning as much as possible from lunches to homework to shopping. Give your kids a checklist and let them be the decision maker, just make sure they let you know what the plan is so you can approve it first.