Making the transition to 1st grade easier

DISCLOSURE: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. As always, all opinions are mine alone. #EffortlessMeals #CollectiveBias

Everyone told me it would be hard - the transition to first grade. While not difficult, it is more challenging than Kindergarten. It's not only the homework just about every night. And quizzes every week. But the time management of it all. Thank goodness for quick, effortless meals that help me get a healthy dinner on the table in no time.

I'm not gonna lie. Last year, I struggled with picking up the kids after work, feeding them dinner, giving them baths, and getting them ready for bed in one-and-a-half hours, from 6-8:30 p.m. The thought of adding daily homework stressed me out. When would we have the time to fit that in? But we had to. It's important. But so is feeding them a healthy meal.

I thought back to when I was growing up. My sister and I were involved in all kinds of after school activities. From dance to ice skating to piano, we participated in it all. And kept up our school work. My mom kept us on track but still found time to feed us a yummy dinner. She didn't always cook delicious Filipino food from our culture because she also worked a full-time job. So sometimes she would stop by the store to pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner. 

That's what I do now. Walmart makes it so easy. They have signs near the display for the Marketside meals so they're easy to find. At my store, the deli section is located near the front where I can quickly pick up a Marketside rotisserie chicken meal for my whole family, which comes with the chicken, side item and 2 liter bottle of Coke. You could also get a Marketside pizza. My store has them available frozen or freshly baked. Score! Now I don't have to stress. The time I used to spend in the kitchen preparing meals is now spent working on homework. 

Sometimes our girls don't like eating just the plain chicken all the time, so I get creative by shredding it up and making a chicken quesadilla. This is a big hit in our house, so I'm sharing the recipe with you.

Chicken Quesadilla Recipe

  • INGREDIENTS:
    • 1 1/2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken
    • 14 (10 inch) flour tortillas
    • 2 cups of shredded Mexican cheese mix
    • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
    • Sour cream, salsa, guacamole (optional for serving)
  • DIRECTIONS: (makes 2 10-inch quesadillas, serves 4-6)
    • Heat a large frying pan over medium heat until hot. (3 minutes)
    • Place a tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle with half of the chicken, half of the cheese, and half of the cilantro (optional).
    • Top with a second tortilla. Cook until the underside is golden brown in spots and half the cheese is melted. (3 minutes)
    • Using a spatula, carefully flip the quesadilla over and cook until the underside is golden brown and all the cheese has melted. (2-3 more minutes)
    • Slide the quesadilla from the pan onto a cutting board and slice into triangles. 
    • Repeat the same steps with the remaining ingredients.
    • Serve with sour cream, salsa and guacamole, if desired.

What's great is this meal is also interactive. The girls love to help in the kitchen and it gives us quality time together among the busyness of the week. They don their aprons and enjoy sprinkling the ingredients on the tortilla. This way they can decide how much chicken and cheese they want. They don't like "green" stuff so we leave out the cilantro for their quesadillas.

Besides this effortless meal, what other things do you think make the transition to first grade easier? Here are a few tips that've helped us.

  1. Do some homework during the summer. This may sound like a bummer to you and your child, but we made it fun. We purchased some awesome summer bridge activity books online and both our girls completed an assignment from each section everyday. As educators will tell you, children lose some of their skills over the summer. We also worked on reading and math. But making it fun for the kids was the key. It wasn't a chore and they looked forward to completing their work everyday. 
  2. Talk to your child. Going into the school year, we explained that first grade was going to mean more work and less play time than Kindergarten. We informed Monkey that she would have daily homework and tests. But that we would help her along the way. So far, it's been a lot easier than I could've imagined. She immediately does her work when we get home. It's not even a battle. When preparing for quizzes like spelling, instead of making her write out the words with pencil and paper, we let her spell them with Playdoh. It's fun and keeps her entertained while learning.
  3. Talk to your child's teacher. I met with Monkey's teacher as school was beginning to explain the challenges she currently faces - like getting distracted easily and having trouble managing time with assignments. She also wears glasses, not all the time, only when she reads. The teacher listened to our concerns and seated Monkey near the front of the class. I think it's important to have this open dialogue with your child's teacher because they're sometimes around our children more than we are during the week.
  4. Don't stress. I know this one is easier said than done, especially when you have a rough day at work or the kids are acting up. But I'm trying not to sweat the small stuff. Like spending my weekends making meals for the week. Sometimes, we want a beach day or there are birthday parties to attend so I don't get around to it. Now, I make a stop at Walmart to pick up their effortless Marketside meals to feed my family.

Be sure to check out more delicious effortless meal inspiration . What are your favorite meals on-the-go?