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Tips for Parents:  Back to School

Some kids can’t wait to get back to school to see friends or participate in extracurricular activities.  Other children would be happy to have summer vacation year round.  Either way, everyone has to go back to school.  Here are a few tips for parents and kids to make the transition easier on everyone.

Back to School Tip #1: Getting Clothing and Supplies

Get the school year off to a good start and take advantage of sales by planning and purchasing supplies and clothing before school begins. If your budget is tight, shop local thrift stores first.  You can also participate in community clothing swaps, or visit freecycle.org to see if anyone in your area is giving away items that might work for your family.

Many people throw out supplies or clothing from the previous school year that are still usable because kids enjoy getting new supplies each year.  Try to reuse good items, or donate them for others to make use of if you prefer new.

Back to School Tip #2: Returning to the School Year Schedule

For most families, bed times and meal times become more flexible during the summer.  If this is the case for your family, it’s a good idea to gradually move back to regular bed times and rising times beginning a couple of weeks before school.  Children’s (and parents’) bodies need time to adjust to sleep schedules.  If not done gradually, your kids will be tired and grumpy the first few weeks of school.

Back to School Tip #3: Get Child Care Finalized

If your children will be going to child care before or after school, finalize the details a couple of weeks in advance to avoid any last minute complications.  Be sure your child knows where and when they are supposed to be at all times and familiarize your child with the back up plan in case of emergency.

Back to School Tip #4: Practice Getting Ready and Coming Home

Most kids take more time getting ready than parents would like.  If your children tend to dawdle, give them a checklist for getting ready and start practicing a couple of weeks before school starts so they can get in the routine.  Be careful not to fall into a pattern of nagging them to get ready.  Instead, you may need to offer a reasonable reward to motivate them.

Younger children will also need to rehearse getting to the bus stop (if they ride) and to their classroom in the morning, and getting back on the correct bus, or to your or your childcare provider’s car in the afternoon. 

Back to School Tip #5: Warm Up Fuzzy Brains

Ideally, you made sure your child read regularly during the summer and did educational activities to keep what they learned the previous year fresh in their minds.  If not, you might need to dust the cobwebs off their brains with some back to school warm ups, beginning a couple of weeks before school.

Ideas:

  • 30 minutes of family reading time each evening
  • Family trivia or puzzle games
  • A book of brain teasers
  • A workbook for their grade level
  • Dig up some of the spelling lists or homework from last year (if you saved any) and have the kids review.

Back to School Tips #6: Meet the Teacher

Back to School Night is an important step in getting the school year off to a good start.  Most teachers ask you to complete an assessment of your child’s interests, challenges and talents and give you the opportunity to express any concerns and expectations.  You’ll also get important papers and schedules that will familiarize you with the teacher’s expectations for your child and how the classroom will run.

If you can’t make it to the Back to School Night, schedule an appointment with the teacher as soon as possible for an introduction and conference.

And remember, research shows that your involvement in your child’s education is the primary factor in their success.  Help with homework, ask questions about their day, and stay in touch with the teacher in between parent teacher conferences.  For more tips for parental involvement, read Tips for Parents: Your Role in School Success and Tips for Parents: Parent Involvement.

You may also find these resources helpful:

Tips for Parents: First Day of School
The National PTA’s Moving from Middle School to High School

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