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7 Ways to Prepare Kids for First Days Back to School

prepare for back to schoolIt’s that time of year again. Just when we get into a nice routine, everything gets shaken up again when the kids go back to school. (It makes me wonder why we don’t have school all year ‘round…) Depending on your kids’ ages, going back to school can be just another year or it can be a new, exciting (or terrifying) experience. Here are some ways you can prepare the kids (and yourself) for the new school year.

1. Readjust sleep schedules.

Inevitably, kids don’t keep the same sleep schedules during the summer as they do during the year. They stay up a bit later and sleep in a bit later. It happens. A few weeks before school starts, you’ll want to realign those schedules so you don’t fight with them in the morning. Put them to sleep at school bedtimes and wake them up as if they were going to school; try to run them through the morning routine (make beds, brush teeth, eat breakfast, etc.) as if they had a bus to catch.

2. Attend the orientation.

If there is some sort of orientation or meeting with your kids’ teacher(s), show up for it. Often these sessions will tell you things you already knew, but there could be some new information. Your child may need a special supply that you didn’t anticipate, or the bus routes may have changed slightly and the stop is now down the street. Being prepared will save you the headache of a last minute change.

3. Visit the school beforehand.

If this is a new school for your child (maybe you moved neighborhoods or your child is moving up), a quick tour of the building would be helpful. Take a casual stroll and find the important landmarks, like the gym, the cafeteria, and wherever the buses meet. For younger kids, simple exploring a place with mom or dad can make them a lot more comfortable than experiencing it for the first time alone. If you have your child’s schedule beforehand, take this with you and stop by each room.

4. Meet the teacher.

If you didn’t have an opportunity at the orientation, schedule a quick (don’t be intrusive) meeting with the teacher so your child becomes comfortable with this new authority figure. Young kids can relax around someone once they see mom or dad interacting kindly with the new person. Plus, this will give you a chance to feel the teacher out and get an idea of their teaching style.

5. Talk about school often.

If your child is new to school, talking about it often can help make it normal. Hype it up like it’s an adventure he/she has the privilege to take. Talk about how you wish you could go to school instead of work (which is the truth!) and list all the fun activities that will take place.

6. Let your kids pick out their own supplies.

Obviously you’ll have to balance this against cost ($30 pencil cases? No thank you), but letting your kids pick out the pattern on their backpack, the color of their folders and the characters on their pencils can help them establish ownership of those items. They’ll be more inclined to use them properly and avoid losing them.

7. Get yourself organized.

You can count on unexpected hiccups in your usual routine when the new school year starts. Maybe you learn that you can’t send peanut butter in the lunchbox any more, or that Tylenol is a regulated medication as far as the school is concerned, and only administered by the nurse. These problems can’t be avoided, so make sure you avoid the problems that can be, like clean uniforms, stocked backpacks, and understood bus routes.

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