Atlanta Goes Back to School
Atlanta Goes Back to School
This American tradition can be daunting. With a little preparation, however, you can get the kids back to school, disaster-free and with a face aimed at the year to come.
It’s almost upon us: that magical time of year when the kids get to return to all the glory of education, and when parents get to bask in the regularity of the school day. That being said, there’s a good deal of prep work involved in getting the brood ready to hit the books. But no worries: with a little advice, and a finger or two to point you in the right direction, the end of summer break can be a breeze.
Start Dates for 2017, by Atlanta School District
- Atlanta Public Schools: August 1
- Cobb County Schools: July 31
- Decatur City Schools: August 1
- DeKalb County Schools: August 7
- Fulton County Schools: August 7
- Gwinnett County: August 7
- Marietta: August 3
Start With the Essentials
The first step is to tackle the big-ticket stuff first, and to get it out of the way in advance. This includes clothes. We won’t go into too much detail here: either your kids are young enough so they’ll be outfitted for practicality, in which case, you’ve already got a store or two in mind; if your kids are old enough so fashion is the main concern, don’t worry — they’ll tell you. Whichever the case, plan to hit up the mall (Lenox Square in Buckhead is always a safe bet) about a month before school starts, when the first of the fall stock is coming in, and when back-to-school sales are at their peak. Plus, taking care of this in advance will give plenty of time to supplement any necessities with items you can find online
The real key is to make sure technology is maximized — all the best to eliminate a meltdown the night before a big paper is due. If your student has a laptop and/or an iPhone, this is a great time for an annual review: Is it still in working order? How’s the battery life holding up? Is there any necessary software that’s going to require an upgrade before school gets underway? Summertime can be murder on even the most well-protected of technology, so checking big upgrades off the list in advance saves time later on.
Research the Year
The remaining weeks before the school year starts is the last chance to make sure your kid’s signed up for any extracurriculars he or she may want to try their hand at. Whether it’s sports, theater, or basket-weaving, dedicate time to getting together and doing some research. At a loss? Refer to the summertime — were there any cool experiences he or she expressed an interest in wanting to pursue? Chances are, there’s an organization in Atlanta that’ll let them get their hands dirty.
That being said, we can’t vouch enough for the benefits of self-improvement, even once the school year gets underway, especially for older students. While volunteer opportunities and high-school internships are available in abundance during the summer months, they don’t get a lot of press during the school year — which totally doesn’t mean that such positions don’t exist. A good starting point would be to hook up with the gang at Hands On ATL (handsonatlanta.org): for 30 years, they’ve been an amazing one-stop hookup for Atlanta volunteers and non-profits. Just think of how good it’ll look on a college application, too!
Organize the Minutia
As you get closer to the first day of school, getting all the nitty-gritty taken care of can save a lot of headaches in the long run. While your student may insist on keeping track of their schedule in the cloud (hey, it’s what you do, isn’t it?), try to push them on something a bit more tactile. A great way to do this is by using bullet journaling — not only is this form of time managment trendy (and utterly Instagram-able), it lends a creative element to the art of organization, too. Going with something as timeless as a Moleskine and a box of colored pencils is a nice way to start, but hit up a ‘Passion Planner’ if you happen to find one: these half-journal-half-calendars aren’t just a repository for thoughts and things-to-do; they also grant a streamlined way to plot out goals for the next week, month, year, etc., and serve as a nice motivation for the elusive work/life balance (it’s never too early to get them ready for the real world…).
Slip Back into Routine
The last week before school gets underway is critical. No matter how summer has gone, it’s a safe bet that, without some psychological prep work, hopping out of bed and going to classes isn’t going to happen in a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed kinda way. So on the Monday before, re-institute the schedule, but go easy on them: you remember what it was like when you were their age, as the last dregs of summer slowly slipped away… ah, youth. Make it fun. Put on some coffee, whip up some chocolate chip pancakes, and get the early-morning ritual fine-tuned, oiled up, and back in working order.
While you’re at it, spend the mornings that week making plans for one last family outing before the end of summer. Busch Gardens is always a good bet; taking a hike in the North Georgia mountains is always a great excuse to beat the heat; go see a show at the Fox; heck, when was the last time you actually went to the Atlanta Zoo, or the Georgia Aquarium? Whatever you end up deciding to do, make it something everyone will love and look forward to — that oughtta take the sting out of rising with the sun after all these months.
The Night Before
Finally, summon your inner Mary Poppins — you’re on the home stretch. Make sure that clothing is organized for the first day of school, and that the bag is all packed up and ready to head out the door. The last thing anyone needs is a last-minute scramble for that essential item, stuck under a couch cushion, that you’re not even thinking of right now. It’s a scientific fact, after all, that regardless of the amount of prep that takes place, the undeveloped mind is less-than-responsive to the alarm when the actual first day of school arrives.
All of this hard work does have its rewards. Not only will you have done your part to make sure your young student is fully equipped to face the new school year, but you ought to be able to leave yourself just enough time to snap the annual “first day of school” picture that you can pull out to embarrass them with, years afterwards. And isn’t that the real joy of being a parent?
Sniff… They grow up so fast...
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