Ask Holly: Tips for a Great School Year

Tips for a Great School Year

Seasoned parents know that no matter how organized you think you are your kid will come home begging for, or needing, something that you didn’t see coming.  That, or you’ll be blow-drying wet papers at the 11th hour because of a leaky water bottle, or turning your desk upside down searching for a field trip money envelope.

Over the school years, I compiled a list of random things (it’s always the random ones that knock you for a loop) to make life easier: quality and safe item picks for home and school, lunch packing tips and summer clean-up information. All things that I would have found helpful last September.

Here are my tips for a great school year:


Tips for a Great School Year Leak-free water bottles:
Thinking any water bottle will do is a rookie mistake. Leaky water bottles equal wet folders and they drive teachers crazy. Last year I tossed all of our crappy water bottles and asked Barista Kids editor Georgette Gilmore what she recommended. Taking her advice I ordered Camelbak water bottles for my kids. They have cute designs, are easy to drink from and best of all they DON’T leak. She also advised ordering a pack of bottle bite replacements as the kids tend to chew them and they do wear out. I did  find that  3/4 of the way through the year we needed them.

Writing your child’s name with permanent marker is a quick fix, but will wash away in  on in the dishwasher. Instead put a strip of fun duct tape on the bottle and then write on the tape. It will wear off eventually but lasts far longer than writing on the bottle.

Buy envelopes for field trip money etc.:
Everything from field trip money/permission slips to teacher gifts needs to be sent to school in an envelope. Buy a box now and save yourself from the last minute morning stress searching for one.

Tips for a Great School Year
See through umbrellas—great for the bus stop!

The Best Bus Stop Umbrellas:
When  kids have to stand outside in the rain waiting for the bus, they love see through umbrellas. Not only do the clear bubble-type umbrellas  keep them drier, but they can also see their friends without tilting it and poking another kid’s eye out. I found great, inexpensive, clear bubble umbrellas at Essex Shoe Repair on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. See through umbrellas are safer and much more fun!

Packing Fresh Sandwiches:
This is a trick my mother always used, to avoid bread getting stale store it in the freezer. When making lunches in the morning. use the frozen bread as it thaws quickly and will keep the lunch cool longer.

Tips for a Great School Year
Help for those little fingers

Cheese Stick Help:
This is a trick my friend Jen taught me—really great for the little ones. Cheese sticks are tricky for small children to open and even though a lunchroom aid can help them, lunchtime is over in a flash and we don’t want them to leave hungry. Help them out by putting a small tab of duct tape on each side of the wrapper (see photo) so they can easily open the stick.

Cleaning the Summer Outdoor Toys:
With the kids gone at school you can now safely put away the pool, Slip n’ Slide or whatever that has not been touched since July. To clean that nasty layer of summer goo off simply fill a spray bottle with a combination of half white vinegar and half water. Spray onto the areas needed away from your grass, hose down, let dry and store until next year mildew free. TIP: always clean the undersides first.  Wipe down only if needed. Smaller items such as sandbox toys I rinse and run through the dishwasher.

Clean up the outdoor toys for the season

Labeling Hats, Mittens etc.:
Don’t wait until the first cold day to label your child’s clothing. Order good labels. We like Name Bubbles.


Don’t forget to download our printable morning and after school part 1 and 2 routine charts too!

Printable Morning/After School Routine Chart


Share your favorite back to school tips with us in comments.


Questions? Just Ask Holly in comments.


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