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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine


In the blink of an eye, summer has flown by and it’s time for back-to-school. Closed toed shoes stifle the freedom of bare feet and sleeping in until “whenever” on a weekday comes to an abrupt end. How do parents survive the transition, or at least make it easier? Here’s some advice to help get you back into the school routine.

Take the “whenever” out of your child’s wake up routine before school starts. Easier said then done, but it will help you get out the door on time (or at least close to it) after the excitement of the first few days of school wears off. An early bedtime is key. One way to get kids to bed earlier, as well as get them back into the reading habit; send them to bed before their bedtime with a book, which signals it’s time to settle down and initiates reading. Hopefully an early bedtime will result in early risers. Get your kids up and ready to roll on the days leading up to when the school bell rings with pre-planned early morning activities like a special breakfast, fun outing, that needed back to school haircut or back-to-school supply shopping.

To that, plan a special shopping trip for back-to-school supplies. Having the right tools will help your child feel prepared. While keeping basic needs in mind, allow for a couple of splurges like a cool notebook or a favorite-colored pen. These simple pleasures make going back-to-school a lot more fun.

If your child is attending a new school, make the setting a familiar one by taking a tour, or plan a play date on the school’s playground and bring a picnic lunch or snack. For the younger set especially, being accustomed to their new surroundings before the first day can help ease children’s fears. Some Napa schools offer a student orientation day before school begins. Take advantage of this time to introduce your student to his or her new campus. The experience will help them connect with other students, teachers and their school, giving them a boost of confidence on the first day. Attend back to school events which inform you of the teacher’s plan for the year, including special activities, school functions, etc.

Sounds simple, but make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast every morning. In the mayhem of trying to get out the door on time, this essential meal could easily be forgotten. As the mom of fifth-grade twin daughters and a sixth-grade son, it’s a continual struggle to manage this, as well as pack nutritious lunches they like. This year, they’ll be packing their own lunch, another bit of advice for parents whose children are old enough to do it on their own.

Some downtime afterschool and a snack followed by the homework routine is standard practice at our house. And homework finished before sports practice if possible helps get pages finished before the tiredness that creeps in later in the evening causes frustration, and what would have taken 30 minutes escalates to 60 or


Shut down the “I don’t have anything to wear” mornings, by having your child decide which clothes to wear the next day before they go to bed. Make it fun for younger kids by teaching them to “make your girl or boy.” Which simply means they choose and lay out the clothes they’ll wear the next day, then arrange them in the shape of a person on their floor. Done and less morning stress. One more step, pun intended. Put the shoes for the next day with their clothes. That way, you won’t be scrambling to find them in the morning when they can’t.

We are fortunate to live in a community that offers a plethora of afterschool activities and programs for youth of all ages. Over the years, Napa Parks and Rec has provided a diverse mix of after school and weekend activities, enabling my kids to pursue their varied interests in sports, arts and crafts and dance just to a few. Fall ball, both Napa Little League and Napa Junior Girls Softball League, has become a constant in our home. The abbreviated fall season is fun and a great precursor to prepare for the longer spring season.

This summer, our family discovered the newly opened Napa STEM Academy where the kids learned robotics and how to code. They had a blast designing their own fidget spinners and mini figures, which they brought to life using the Academy’s 3D printer. One afternoon of drop-in camp and they were hooked. Napa STEM also offers cooking, art classes and tutoring for grades 3-12. In August, the Academy will begin after school programs that supplement the STEM learning kids get during the school day. Learn more at

Girls on the Run, a 10-week after school program offered in elementary schools throughout Napa, inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience based curriculum which creatively integrates running. The program, which teaches girls positivity and respect, begins September 10 and culminates with a family friendly 5K on November 27. Registration opens August 1 at

Get your student back into the swing of school with free online resources available at Visit the Parents and Students page for access to over 25 educational sites appropriate for ages K-12. Here are just a few. Sumdog, used in thousands of schools worldwide, is intelligent learning made fun. The programs are designed to motivate children to work on math, reading and writing. Science Friday partners with educators and scientists to create free STEM activities, lessons, and resources for students. The site features interesting

science articles paired with videos to further explain the topics. Interactive Sites For Education features all of the best K-5 online, interactive, educational games and simulations in one place. Topics range from art to Spanish and typing.

Be sure to snap a photo of your back-to-schooler to commemorate the first day of school, because while the days are long, the years are short and before you know it another one will have passed.

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