10 things to start doing today:

Figure out your child’s school schedule. Then one week before school actually starts, have your kids go to bed and wake up in the morning at the times they will for school. Eat breakfast and dinner at the times they will on school days. Being on a firm schedule is good for everyone.

Make sure your child has all their immunizations and physicals completed before that important first day of school. Check with your school if you are unsure of the medical requirements for each student. Preparing in advance will ensure a smooth first day of school with no surprises.

Some children will have a difficult time separating from you. Remember that a short good-bye is better than a long one. Leave your child at school or the bus stop with a hug and a kiss and say “Have fun at school! You can tell me all about it when you get home”. Then just walk away with a wave and a smile. If you are confident and excited about saying good-bye, then your child will have the same positive feelings.

Buy school supplies now while the local stores are fully stocked and running sales. Buy a sturdy backpack that is large enough to hold your child’s items, but not so big that your child cannot wear it comfortably. Have them try on the backpack to make sure it fits, and allow them to select their own school materials. Pack all the supplies into the backpack when you get home, and you both will be ready for the first day.

Some children are nervous about meeting new people. Before the school year begins, practice with your children what it will be like to meet their new teacher and new classmates. Teach your children to listen carefully to their teacher so that they learn the classroom rules and the teacher’s expectations. Explain that the first day of school is a good day to make a new friend. Tell your child to introduce themselves to at least one child who was not in their classroom last year. Talk about how most children are nervous, and that it is a kind thing to reach out to a new student who might not know anyone.

Practice your travel route with your child at least two times before the first day of school. If biking, teach your child to walk their bikes through all intersections and to ride in single file. If you walk with your children, look for other children and parents who live close to you and will also be walking the same path. Then you can try to arrange for a group of children to walk together. If you drive children to school, make sure every child is properly buckled every time.

Set up a homework station at home for your children to use. Keep a homework kit in this station filled with pens, pencils, a sharpener, paper, markers, etc. This allows your kid to be organized and not to waste any time looking for what they need when they start their homework. And don’t forget to set up a small basket for yourself where you can keep school forms, lunch orders, and any items that need to be returned to school.

Mornings are hectic while trying to get out of the house on time. To make it easier, make lunches the night before, leaving only the refrigerated items to be packed in the morning. Have each child lay out their clothes and put their backpacks by the front door before bed. Many parents call out to their children several times before the kids actually get out of bed. Decide with your children if they want you to wake them (once!) or if they want an alarm clock. Stick with whatever you choose together, but then make it your child’s responsibility to be up on time.
To help with keeping track of everyone’s schedules and all important dates, hang a family calendar. Assign a different marker color to each family member, and write events in the corresponding color for each person. A bulletin board in the kitchen is also be very helpful to post lunch menus, sports schedules, and notes that must go back to school. Each night, review the calendar and make sure all items are ready. Being organized makes everyone feel confident and ready.

Some children want to talk about their school day when they get home and some ant to wait until bedtime. We encourage our kids to talk when we show them that we are good listeners. What we hear from our children is more important than what we say to our children. To be a good listener, be willing to listen to all stories, do not interrupt while they are talking, and do not yell if they tell us something we don’t like. We need to listen to our children the same way we want them to listen to us. Listening to our children tells them that we value them, and think what they have to say is important.