It’s that time of year already; the summer is winding down, it’s cooler in the mornings, activities are coming to a close, and parents have to start preparing their kids to go back to school.  For some, this may be a welcomed time of year as many parents go back to work, but for others, back to school time can be a stressful and downright difficult time.  Getting a new school year off to a good start can influence children’s confidence, attitude, and performance both academically and socially.  Even children who are eager to return to class have to adjust to the higher levels of activity, structure, and, for some, pressures associated with school life.

1. Re-establish bedtimes and meal times
Summer seems to be a time of throwing routines to the way side as each day brings on a new adventure.  At least a week before the new school year starts, get your kids back into the habit of going to bed at the same time, as well as having breakfast and dinner at the same time.  Routines are an extremely important part of the back to school transition, so the earlier your kids get back into it, the easier it will be come the first day of school.

2. Prepare the school supplies
It can be very stressful and even embarrassing to a child on the first day of school if they are unprepared with the necessary supplies.  This includes the new back pack, school clothes, supplies like pens, pencils, markers, erasers, a calculator, and the list goes on.  Typically the school will send home a letter with a list of the appropriate supplies, so make sure to read it carefully.  Another reason to be prepared with school supplies is that it becomes a natural encouragement for your kids to get new stuff, and it helps with the transition if they are nervous.

3. Schedule doctor and dental check-ups
If at all possible, try to schedule your child’s doctor and dental appointments now, as you will find a more flexible schedule.  Planning those appointments for late afternoon will eliminate your child having to miss school.

4. Visit the School
This tip is extremely important if your child is transitioning from one “era” to another, such as a graduation to elementary school.  Visiting the school ahead of time and showing your child where things are like the office, bathrooms, cafeteria, and homeroom will help to ease stress and nervousness on the first day.

5. Designate the homework spot
No matter where your child will be doing his or her homework, it’s important to have that spot designated for just that.  It will help homework become part of the daily routine, as well as help in the necessary organization that is key to the back to school transition.

6. Talk positive
No matter how excited your child may be about the return to school, friends, and favorite teachers, there is still a sense of nervousness.  As a parent, it’s important for you to be positive and supportive about all things that go along with back to school.  If the child senses you are nervous or stressed out, they could harbor those feelings as well.

7. Prepare the calendar
This tip is especially helpful for parents with more than one child in school at one time.  From extracurricular activities to sports events and doctors appointments, having a calendar to refer to on a daily basis will help keep everyone organized.  Prepare the calendar as you are aware of each item, that way the chance of forgetting about something or losing that piece of paper with the date and time is eliminated.

8. Prepare a week’s worth of dinners
The first week of a new school year is probably the most stressful, not only for your children, but for the parents as well!  Having a week’s worth of dinners prepared and in the freezer will surely help to relieve the panic of “oh no it’s 5:00 and I forgot about dinner”!

9. Encourage questions and concerns
Even children who have been in school for years are sure to have questions and concerns.  As a parent, you can make it much easier on your kids to encourage them to ask not only you, but their teachers as well, about anything that they are unsure of.  Encourage your children to talk to you about their daily routine at school, what they had for lunch, do they like their teachers, and what sports are available to sign up for.  Not only will this help with the child/parent communication at the end of the school day, but it will be helpful for your children to “talk it out”.

10. Have copies of important information
With all of the activities and things that your child may become involved in at school, many programs require up-to-date medical or other important information.  It can be helpful for parents to have a few copies of this information readily available for when the child needs it, instead of scrambling at the last minute to come with what’s needed.

The start of a new school year should be a fun and anticipated time of year for children of any age.  These tips will help to make the transition easier, less stressful, more organized, and most importantly, fun for your kids!

What other back to school tips do you have, either for kids or the parents?

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