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Preparing Your Child to Go Back to School

Going back to school after a summer of fun, without schedules and homework, can be a rough time in your child’s life. In addition to the nervousness caused by wondering whether or not he will like his new teacher and classes, there are the challenges of daily schedules filled with activities and reestablishing study habits. Here are some ideas to make the transition go more smoothly.

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“Back to School” shopping. Develop a “Back to School” shopping list with your child. Have them write out the list. You may wish to include clothing items or a computer along with school supplies. Most schools have school supply lists available for each classroom. The lists are often in the local stores or you can pick up a copy at the school. Some states offer a few “tax free” days specifically for school supplies. If your area does so, you will want to time your shopping trip to take advantage of the savings. Have your child go with you to do “Back to School” shopping. Have your child read from the list and then check off each item as it is added to your cart.

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Set back the clock. Usually summer schedules are more relaxed than school schedules. Maybe you permit your child to stay up later and sleep later during the summer. If so, start to adjust their schedule back to school times at least a week prior to the beginning of school. Bedtime can be set a half an hour earlier every couple of days until the schedule is back to school bedtimes. Wake-up time can also be adjusted. Sleep is very important to growing children. Most growth happens during sleep. Experts recommend children sleep 9 to 12 hours a night. If your child is having trouble adjusting to the sleep schedule, make sure there is a bedtime routine to follow (bathe, brush teeth, use the restroom, change to pajamas, bedtime story, lights out). A small glass of warm milk is often just the thing for helping a child drift off to sleep.

Homework already! Bookstores and online book vendors have workbooks available which help prepare your child for the grade they will be starting. Have your child work through one or more of these workbooks just to get them back into the mode of doing homework. It also gives him a chance to practice the highly perishable skills he spent so much time learning last year. In the end, your child will feel better prepared when he walks into the classroom and, as a result, he is more likely to be successful.

From the cover of Young and Healthy, a mother gets her son ready for school

Decorate and embellish. As a craft project, let your child decorate his school notebooks. Have stickers, markers, colorful paper, crayons, and other craft items available. Encourage your child to personalize their school supplies. Not only will your child enjoy the process and create something they like to look at, they will also be able to easily spot their items.

Set the schedule. In the final week prior to the start of school, discuss schedules with your child. Have him write out a daily schedule and post it in his room. Be sure to include wake-up and bedtimes, study time, meal times, hygiene times, leave the house for school time, and extracurricular activity times.

Make the transition between summer vacation and school easier for everyone.