Back to School: Easing into the Routine

by Carol Band

"It's hard for kids to jump into a new routine," says Stacy DeBroff, author of The Mom Book Goes to School and other strategy books for parents. "Ease into the school year gradually."

DeBroff suggests starting to shift kids' wake-up and bedtime routines closer to the school time by 10- or 15-minute increments.

"Get kids using their brains again, too," she urges. "Give your kids short writing assignments or require half an hour of reading every day in the weeks leading up to the start of school."

In addition to preparing for academics, also prepare your kids for the social and emotional impact of starting a new school year.

"When my daughter enrolled in a new school, it was really helpful for me to make contact with another parent and for my daughter to feel like she knew at least one other kid," says Beate Becker, a mother of two teenage daughters. "The school provided me with a list of kids from our neighborhood who would be attending the same school and we were able to meet them and actually develop friendships weeks before school started."

Tips for Transitioning Back to School:

  • Visit the school and, if possible, walk around inside. Play on the playground.

  • Talk to your child. Ask if he or she has any concerns about the coming year. Kids like to know how they are going to get to school, who will be in their class and where you will pick them up at the end of the day.

  • Shop for school supplies with your child. If children are involved, they'll feel more invested in the coming year.

  • Organize your home. Toss last year's school projects and lunch menus. Make room for new school clothes.

  • Create a box for school notices, permission slips and teacher correspondence.

  • Stock up on school and art supplies for home. Extra notebooks and paper, glue sticks and poster board will save you a last-minute dash to the store
    later on when you find out a big project is due - tomorrow!

  • Post a calendar with everybody's schedule. Color code activities for each member of the family.

  • Make copies of health forms. You'll need them for sports participation, field trips, etc.