domingo, 9 de septiembre de 2012


 16 Tips for a Better School Year

25 Tips for a Better School Year
Nothing is quite as thrilling— or challenging — as the beginning of the school year. While your kids are excited about new friends, new teachers, and new discoveries, you're caught up in the tasks of keeping organized, calming jitters, and staying on schedule.

To help you and your family focus on the fun stuff and steer clear of the stresses, we've assembled a collection of back-to-school tips from the experts: our readers and staff. Try a few of these morning strategies, homework helpers, lunch solutions, and easy organizing ideas, and you just might move to the head of the class.

1. Get a head start on making friends

25 Tips for a Better School YearTo ease her daughter Allison's transition into first grade last year, Amy Lane Grant arranged a series of late-summer school playground gatherings. She invited just a few of Allison's friends and their parents for the first playdate, then for the next one, she included a few more. "We did this for three weeks," says the Selkirk, New York, mom, "with the last session being quite large as word of our get-togethers spread. Not only did it allow my daughter to spend time with kids who would be at her new school, but many of the parents were able to meet as well." 

2. Don't forget a thing

25 Tips for a Better School YearThere's a lot to remember at the start of the school year, from new phone numbers and e-mails to school supply lists and special dates. Our mini reminder book makes it easy to keep track of it all. Assembled using craft foam, paper, Velcro, and elastic cord, it clips to a zipper pull so that it's always on hand for jotting things down.


  • 1/4-inch-wide pieces of adhesive-backed Velcro
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro
  • 12 inches of elastic cord
  • Key clasp
  • Adhesive-backed craft foam
  • Cardboard backing
  • Copy paper cut to fit, center-stapled, and backed with cardboard
  • Cord
  • 2-1/2- by 6-inch rectangle of craft foam

  • Cut, stack, and staple the paper, fold it inside the cardboard-lined craft foam cover, then bind the book with cord. The pencil tucks inside, held in place with Velcro.

    3. Help kids keep track of time

    25 Tips for a Better School YearWhether you're trying to speed your kids up (to get them out the door, say) or slow them down (as they practice an instrument), these two clever devices could come in handy. The straightforwardTime Timer (, $35) features a 60-minute clock face with a shrinking red wedge that shows little ones the minutes ebbing away. Recommended by readers, Time Tracker Visual Timer & Clock(, $40) works like a tabletop stoplight, changing from green to yellow to red (with sound if you wish) as the allotted time runs out. It requires some setup, but then it's a cinch to use.

    4. Craft a can't-miss reminder

    25 Tips for a Better School YearlAfter delivering her second-grader's forgotten lunch to school a few too many times, Alisson Clark came up with a trick for reminding Owen, now 10, to get it from the fridge. She wrote Lunch on one side of a wood clothespin and clipped it to his backpack. This simple solution worked so well that the Gainesville, Florida, mom penned additional clips for other often-overlooked items. Make a changeable reminder clip like the one shown here by gluing a pad of mini sticky notes to a clothespin. Then you can tear off sheets and switch the "don't forget" message from day to day.

    5 through 9. Get out of bed with a stretch

    25 Tips for a Better School YearlTo help her little sleepyheads get in gear, Marsha Wenig, founder of YogaKids International, had them do a few simple stretches. The combination of breathing and movement wakes up the whole body, she says, and offers inspiration for the day ahead. Here are some morning moves your kids can try:

    Butterfly with Antennae

    Sit up straight. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Bend your elbows out to the side and make butterfly antennae with your pointer fingers. Wiggle your antennae and flap your arms and legs like wings until you're ready to take flight from bed.

    Reach for the Sun

    Stand up tall. Breathe in as you reach up high with one of your hands and grab a piece of sunshine. Pull it down to your belly as you exhale and say, "hah." Repeat several times, alternating hands.

    Shake like Jelly

    This one's simple: just wiggle and jiggle your whole body from head to toe.


    Stand with your feet together. Lift and bend your right leg so that the foot is beside your left knee. Bend your left arm at the elbow, palm facing down. Balance your body and mind for five seconds as you make a wish for the day. Repeat on the other side.


    Stand tall with your feet together and fingertips touching in front of your chest. Jump your feet and arms apart, then bring your palms together. Breathe in and watch your hands as you raise them over your head, then breathe out as you explode your arms outward and lower them to your sides. Continue erupting, raising your arms on an inhale and lowering them on an exhale, several times.

    10-11 Bake a make-ahead breakfast

    25 Tips for a Better School YearDon't have time for a sit-down meal in the morning? Bake and freeze a batch of our scrumptious make-ahead muffins.Besides banana and chocolate chips, our recipe uses whole wheat flour and has a larger yield than many (18 muffins). When the morning routine has slowed to a crawl, kids can quickly microwave a muffin to go. 

    12. Pack breakfast for lunch

    25 Tips for a Better School YearlWhen Ann Smith of Monroeton, Pennsylvania, runs out of time or ideas, she throws together a quick bagged breakfast for her son David's lunch. The package is simple: a plastic spoon, a lidded storage bowl filled with healthy cereal, and a banana or resealable sandwich bag filled with berries or dried fruit. "My son buys milk to pour over his meal, and voilà! He's got a three-food-group lunch," says Ann. David claims to be the envy of the lunch table.

    13 and 14. Dip into something different

    25 Tips for a Better School YearSwitch your child's usual sandwich for a delicious lunch alternative like Apricot Yogurt Dip or Very Veggie Dip.25 Tips for a Better School Year

    15. Stock a homework box

    25 Tips for a Better School YearAnna Burch and son Lucas, age 6, created a simple homework box — a plastic scrapbooking bin filled with frequently used items. "Having the box tucked away on the counter or in a corner keeps everything handy," says Anna. Lucas's box holds pencils, paper, tape, and all the other things he needs to complete his work. 

    16. Try these art display classics

    Still have more art than you can archive? Don't forget these ideas:
  • Tape creations inside kitchen cabinets or in basement stairwells
  • Turn them into greeting cards or wrapping paper
  • Save seasonal works and use them as holiday decorations
  • Donate them to a local nursing home or senior center

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