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7 Back-to-School Tips for Parents

Thursday, August 13, 2015 -- Sarah Cornelius

The days are getting a little shorter, vacations are winding down, and it’s impossible to walk into a store without seeing endless shelves of school supplies—back-to-school time is definitely upon us. And while parents and caregivers are not the ones headed back to the classroom, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have just as much to think about and prepare for as their children! We’ve put together these seven tips to help you stay organized during these busy back-to-school weeks and make sure that your child’s transition into their new school year is a smooth one.

1. Reestablish school-year routines

For many students and parents, one of the best parts of summer is the laid-back, variable schedule. The transition to the more rigid, early-to-bed, early-to-rise schedule of the school year can be stressful—or just downright painful. Make the change easier on yourself and your child by easing into the school-year routine over the last few weeks of summer. Slowly push back bedtime to what it will be during the school year, get children out of bed a little earlier each day, and establish a morning routine of getting ready for the day. Be sure to begin a normal mealtime routine as well, including a nutritious breakfast.

2. Get checkups out of the way

Make sure that your child starts off the new school year in good health! Schedule medical and dental checkups before the first day of school, and address any concerns you have—whether they pertain to physical health or social and emotional well-being. By taking care of appointments like this prior to the start of school, you can avoid the hassle of pulling children out of school for routine appointments. For older children, also be aware that most school sports teams require a physical before participation. Be sure to obtain any forms that are required by your child’s school, and have them filled out by your doctor.

3. Develop a filing system

A new school year always comes with plenty of paperwork. Review all materials that your child’s school sends out before the start of the year regarding schedules, classrooms, supply lists, health and emergency forms, extracurricular activity sign-ups, and important dates. Create a filing system to differentiate between forms that must be completed, important information for reference, and less-important handouts that don’t need to be kept for long. Establish a system like this early on so that the paperwork your child brings home throughout the year stays organized.

4. Make a family calendar

Students are busier than ever before, and so are parents! Keep track of all the schedules in your house with a calendar that includes each family members’ activities and important dates. Color-code your calendar to ensure that it is easy to read, and keep it posted somewhere obvious—like the fridge, above your kitchen counter, or next to the door where you all typically come and go. This strategy can be a huge help in making sure that no appointments, soccer practices, or PTA meetings fall through the cracks. 

5. Designate a homework area

Setting up a specific “work area” can help your child establish a productive homework routine once school starts. Older children should have the option to work in their room or another quiet area of the house, like an office or sunroom. Make sure that they have a spacious, organized desk, comfortable chair, and good desk lamp in whatever area they choose. For younger children, designate an area in your living room or kitchen where they can keep the supplies they need, be supervised, and encouraged as they work.

6. Reconnect with classmates

For some students, the social aspect of school breeds anxiety, and seeing friendly faces on the first day of school can make all the difference. Help your child reestablish friendships that may have drifted during the busy summer months by setting up a few playdates with classmates in the weeks leading up to school. In the process, you will have the opportunity to reconnect with other parents.

7. Meet your child’s teacher

Take advantage of your school’s open house or back-to-school night to meet your child’s new teacher (or teachers), and break the ice in advance. This can help ease fears about the transition to a new classroom and make the first day of school more comfortable for your child. It’s also a chance for you to connect with your child’s teacher and establish a line of communication early on. Take the opportunity to express your interest in volunteering in your classroom as well. You can find out what kind of help they would appreciate, and set the stage for your involvement in your child’s education throughout the school year.

Looking for additional ideas to help your child start off the school year on the right foot? The National Association of School Psychologists has a great parental resource on Back-to-School Transitions. You can also check out Edmentum’s 5 Questions All Parents Should Ask Their Child’s Educators for tips on staying involved once your child is back in class!