Setting up Back-to-School Success
By Pioneer Services
Getting Ready for the New School Year
Each new school year provides a unique and exciting break from the routine. 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 may require more mental preparation (especially if it’s a new school), while the rest are financial in nature.
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:
- Practice 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 typical morning routine.
- Scout it out. If your child is attending a new school, head up there before the first day to help them find their way around and meet the teachers. You can also check into any activities of interest and get a general feeling for the school, its facilities, and the staff.
- Provide options. To help give your children a bit of confidence, let them make some choices along the way. Maybe take them out and let them choose new clothes for the first day, or maybe a new activity to join, like a sport or band. The idea is to let them feel as though they have 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 are more successful in school when their parents get more involved. 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 about your family’s situation. Try to speak with not only the teacher, but also a counselor, or even the principal. The goal is ease the transition as much as possible and ensure your children have the support they need.
Getting ready for school can be costly, depending on where you live and just how many kids you have. Thankfully, there are lots of smart ways to save.
- Take 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.
- Look 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, or they may have outgrown their clothes. 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 a few 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.
- 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.
While it’s still up to your kids to get good grades, following these tips can help start off the year with a gold star.
This story is presented by Pioneer Services, the military division of MidCountry Bank, which has provided award-winning financial education to the men and women of the Armed Forces for over 30 years.
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