The first days of school are often challenging, especially after the long summer. For this reason, it can be a good idea to start preparing for back to school in advance. This helps to ensure your children have a smooth transition back. I know with my own kids they can start feeling anxious as it gets closer to time. As parents, it can be hard to see your child struggling. So what can you do to ensure your child has a great start to the school year? I will share below some school prep tips that have proven to be helpful with my own children. 

Things to do the week before school starts

One way to help your child not have a difficult time when school starts is to prepare in advance. Some things to consider (this will vary across school districts): 

  • Registering your child for school and seeing if the faculty will offer a tour of the school. This helps familiarize your child with where their classroom is and where different areas are located within the school. 
  • The biggest thing that has helped my family is implementing an early bed and wake time an hour earlier than they're used to. For example: during the Summer we let them stay up till 10pm and they usually wake by 8am. The week before school starts we go to bed an hour earlier and wake an hour earlier. This has helped us get back into the school routine before the first day gets here.
  • Getting all the supplies they will need for the school year. This can include: backpacks, lunchboxes, school supplies, books, etc. We also try to get back to school clothes at this time too. I find taking my kids and letting them pick out their backpacks, lunchboxes, new shoes and clothes makes them excited to start the school year. After meeting the teacher, they may also instruct you to get other items.
  • We also try to get in a few last minute family outings before school starts. We let the kids decide what they want to do. Sometimes it's the trampoline park, water park, theme park, splash pad, children's museum, hiking. Everything is within driving distance and can be done in a day. I also find if any of my children are nervous about the first day, doing something fun like this helps keep their mind off of it. Plus it makes great memories for us as well. 
  • All of my children like their lunches packed. I try to do a bit of research beforehand to get some lunch ideas that we can use throughout the school year. This way they aren't getting bored with eating the same thing over and over. Getting snack and lunch ideas and then creating a shopping list that I'm able to go get during the weekend saves me from going to the grocery store during the week.

Things to do the night before school starts

The preparations you make the night before school starts will help the morning run a bit smoother. Here are some tips on what to do. 

  • I always make sure everything is in their backpack. The basics like paper, pencil, books, binder, snacks, crayon box, etc. Once I know everything is in their backpack it is hung up beside the front door. They know to not get it off and move it around or there is a good chance something will be left behind the next morning.
  • We lay out their clothes the night before. I let them help me with this because it also builds their excitment for school starting. It also helps us to not waste time in the morning arguing about what they're going to wear. I make sure I know the school's dress code so they are wearing the appropriate things.
  • I always try to get them in bed by 7:30pm on school nights. We start getting ready for bed around 6:30pm. After supper, showers, a small snack if they want and then brushing teeth and into bed. We read a book and then it's lights out.
  • Something to take into consideration if this will be your child's first time at a school and if you will be dropping them off or picking them up. I found it helpful to consider familiarizing yourself with the carpool lane in advance to avoid causing traffic delays the next day. You can consult with other parents or check the school's website for information.

Things to do the first day of school

Now it's time for the big day. I always try to wake my kids up a little earlier than the alarm just in case we have any meltdowns. I give them choices for breakfast such as cereal, eggs, toast, or muffins. If you're like me and have a child that isn't a breakfast eater. I always try to have a granola bar or protein bar that can be eaten in the car on the way to school or if they choose to wait and have it for their snack time. They get dressed with the clothes we laid out the night before. I'm also "that mom" and always take their picture for the first day of school. I have since they were in pre-school. They know the drill now and don't even protest it. I have a preschooler and I have learned that keeping the goodbyes very brief helps them from throwing a fit, so I don't linger.

Some children find it hard to transition from a long summer break to going back to school. Don't stress if your child is like this. They will follow your lead so keeping the topic exciting and fun really goes a long way. If your child is having a hard time transitioning, maintain a calm and patient demeanor while offering support in whatever makes your child the most comfortable. After a few weeks, everyone will be back into the swing of the routine and you'll be ready for the next break. I hope the tips above will help make the start to school a bit easier.

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