There's less than one month left before school starts and you still haven't spent enough time with the kids this summer.
You want to make the most of whatever time you have left, but you also have to start talking about the upcoming school year with them.
Why not combine the two needs? Here are some ideas on how to do this.
1. Have a "make school supplies night"
Everyone has to do this, so it's a family project. Set aside two nights for this project. The first night is to brainstorm and discuss ideas of what kind of school supplies can be made and what kind of material is required for them. The other night will be actually putting them together.
You'll spend time together as a family on a project that's beneficial to everyone and that will save money.
2. Plan a family trip to the college dorm
If one of your kids is a new or returning college student, plan one day when the whole family visits the college campus. But do more than just drop off books and clothes to a dorm room.
Get one of the kids to do research beforehand on the internet or at the library about the history of the college, and find out if there are any specific historical sites to see there that can be visited during your trip.
Also use this trip as an opportunity to see if younger children would be interested in attending the college when it's their time, and what programs they would be interested in.
3. Put together a starting school scrapbook
If five-year-old Ali is starting kindergarten this year, he may be scared and nervous. Get the whole family to help get him excited about this milestone in his life!
Put together a starting school scrapbook for him. Cover it with pictures of things he loves (i.e. cars, cookies, etc.). Then add things like a height chart, a photograph page, a section for his drawings,etc. Explain to him that this is to be used during his school year to keep track of his progress, to see how much he's grown, how many letters he can write, etc.
4. Take a tour of each child's school
Don't just do this for college students. Whether it's your daughter in junior high or the son in fifth grade, take a family trip to each child's school. If you're allowed to, maybe even go inside and take a look at the classroom. This will make the new student more comfortable.
5. Designate a specific day for each child
If you've got more than one child, you need to have some time with each one. This needs to be a time of bonding, Tarbiyya (training) and fun.
You don't have to take them to the zoo or the circus. You can have them research the history of a local Masjid then take them there for a tour. Use this opportunity to teach them the ettiquettes of the mosque (entering, leaving, praying there, etc.). They can keep their notes for a Social Studies class presentation on the topic during the school year.
Cater the idea to your child's interests. Remember that what matters is spending time together and helping them learn.
6. Hold a family talent night
Have a back to school talent night which showcases what each family member learned during the summer. Whether it was a new Surah, an Islamic song, poems they've written or scenery they've painted, let each family member showcase what they've learned or did and talk briefly about what they want to learn for the next family talent show and upcoming school year.
7. Help each child establish goals for the year
Spend time with each child individually to review the last school year and help them establish goals for the upcoming one. Be supportive and positive, not condemning or harsh. Communicate your realistic expectations (i.e. 'I hope you can be one of the top five students in math, since you did so well in the subject last year, Maash Allah').