The school district I live in begins the year in early August, which means the last day of school was yesterday. More than anything, I just want to sling the backpacks into the hall closet, toss the lunch boxes into the kitchen and take a hammer to my alarm clock. I don't even want to hear the word 'school' for a long time. If I do all those things, I am setting myself up for a lot of headache later. If I get a grip on a few little projects now, not only will summer run smoother, I will save myself some time later and eliminate a lot of clutter and chaos along the way.
On the last day of school, I took a nice cup of coffee and sorted through my school binder and accordian file folder. Each is divided in half: the front for one child, the back for the other. The binder contains schedules, a map of the school, policies, sick forms, contact information and the like. The accordian file folder holds school work that has been sent home. I printed a new school calendar from the Board of Education's website and placed it in the binder as a way of prepping it for the next school year. I sorted through each child's section of the accordian folder quickly, looking for samples to keep for them. I never keep it all but I try to keep something from each subject and try to showcase how they have grown over the year. The rest gets tossed. These remaining items are placed in a container and divided by school year. Over time, we often go back and whittle it down some more until we only have a few pieces for each grade level.
Next, I tackle backpacks and lunchboxes. The backpacks get emptied and the trash is tossed out. I give the backpack a quick look to see if it is a keeper. If it is in good shape, it goes into storage until next year. If it's damaged, we get rid of it. Some companies have warranties on their merchandise and will replace damaged items for only the cost of shipping so be sure to check before you throw it away. The lunch box is scrubbed clean and will probably be used as a spare unless the manufacturer can replace it for me. It looks like one backpack is a keeper, one will be outgrown and moved to a yardsale and we will be getting a lunchbox.
Once the backpacks are empty we sort through supplies. Cloth book covers are washed and saved for future use. Most of our school supplies are kept in clear shoe boxes. I'll take a quick inventory to see what's needed and make a list. It will include things that are non specific and could be used in any class room, such as tape, pencils, pens, highlighters, glue, glue sticks, erasers, rulers and index cards. Included with the report cards that are mailed out will be the grade-specific supply list. Over the summer, I will begin purchasing these things. The best sales will be in the few weeks prior to the first day of school. It will also be when the stores are packed with harried parents and cranky kids. I prefer to buy a little here and there over the summer, then pick up extras during those sales. Occasionally, there will be a tax free holiday and I take advantage of that opportunity as well.
Lastly, our schools will often send out Activity Lists for the summer. It includes free events, library programs, schedules for movies, freebies at restaurants and various other family entertainment plans. I keep in a folder and when we need a change of scenery or the day is rainy, it is my 'go to' place. Sometimes, a trip to the library, a free ice cream and a movie under the stars is all you need to make a day feel special.
All of this takes so little time and will be invaluable to you as you provide a great summer for your kids...and yourself.