Making the transition from the lazy days of summer to a new school year can be chaotic for everyone. Get ahead of the game now by using these tips to prepare for a great school start.
Start re-establishing routines
Use these last weeks of summer to get into a school-day rhythm. Have your child practice getting up and dressed at the same time each morning. It’s also important to get your family re-accustomed to leaving the house early, so plan morning activities that require everyone to get up and going. Hustling your child out the door will be less painful if he or she has broken summer habits.
Schedule back-to-school appointments
Health physicals — Schedule an appointment with your child's pediatrician for an annual physical exam. Get a copy for your school’s medical records and/or bring that sports physical form, so the office can fill it out while you are there.
Neighborhood carpools — Talk to friends and find out who is going where so you can create a carpool.
After school care — Sign up for daycare or after school programs. Determine your sick day game plan.
Scope out school supplies — Watch for sales at big box stores. Check thrift stores for used sports equipment.
Attend school orientations
Almost all schools hold orientation and information sessions before the start of the school year. These sessions are great opportunities for you to meet your child’s teachers and office staff. Early face-to-face conversations will help reassure you that if you have questions or concerns, you'll feel comfortable approaching your child’s teacher and the school staff. In addition, touring the school and meeting teachers provides your child a level of comfort about the new school year.
Once classrooms are up and running, your child will need to manage a lot of things on his or her own. Get him ready for independence by talking about responsibilities he's old enough to manage. This might include organizing school materials, writing down assignments, and bringing homework home. Even if your child is young, you can instill skills that build confidence and independence at school. Have your young child practice writing her name and tying her shoes. The transition to school will be easier for everyone if your child can manage basic needs without relying on an adult.
Create a home launch pad
Designate a spot in the kitchen or mudroom where backpacks and lunch boxes go to avoid last-minute scrambles in the morning. Have your child make a list of things to bring to school and post it by the front door.
Get yourself prepared
As the parent of five, I looked forward to having more routine once school started back. However, as a working parent, I made a conscious effort to be more efficient with tasks and chores during the first weeks my children returned to school. I woke up earlier to make the kids' lunches, got to work earlier so I could make it home earlier and get dinner prepared. And I ran errands during my lunch break so I could be home at day’s end for my children. I found by preparing myself for the back-to-school routine, it helped my children adjust faster and easier.
Author & psychologist Laura L. Freeman, Ph.D. works to help parents navigate the challenges of parenthood and be the best parent possible. She is the mother of five and writes at parent4life.com