Back to School: Tips for Parents


The lazy dog days of summer are winding down and if you are like me you’re already thinking ahead to the next school year.

Later summer bedtimes, loose routines and schedules, and running ourselves on fun everyday is what summer is all about but it also makes for a tough transition back to school!  There are a few pieces of advice that people didn’t tell me about when my oldest started kindergarten.  I share these with you in hopes that your transition back to school is smooth and easy!

Start the back to school bedtime routine at least a week in advance.

Children need time to adjust to schedule changes.  It can take the body several days to adjust to a new sleep schedule and, to avoid some seriously cranky kids in the morning, take the time to implement early bedtime in advance.

Don’t go back to school clothes shopping until the end of September.

September can still be a really warm month even in Vermont!  Your kids will be really excited to wear all of their new fall clothes only to find that their classrooms are about 85 degrees some days during the first couple weeks of school.  Your child will most likely wear their summer wardrobe for a good portion of September.  Back to school shopping specials will typically run the month of September, invest in new clothes closer to the end of the month and just buy a new outfit for the first day.

Invest in a good backpack. 

If you shell out a little extra money for a good quality backpack you shouldn’t have to buy a new one every year.  Some companies like LL Bean and Lands End provide really great guides around what type of backpack your child should have based on age, grade, and size.  Also, the great thing about these companies is that they will replace the bag if the zipper rips, the bag gets a tear, or gets damaged in another way.  The same goes for lunchboxes, invest in a good one!

Get organized! 

If this is your first time sending a child to school you should be aware that the amount of paperwork they will come home with is nothing short of a small rainforest.  This year, to make all the paperwork a little more organized in my home, I got organizing files from a Thirty One Gifts party.  I had each of my children’s names embroidered on them and plan to hang them up in our entry way, keeping all the papers that come home in a place where they can stay neat and tidy.

These hanging file type folders are great for organizing school papers.
These hanging “file type” folders are great for organizing school papers.

Establish a nightly and morning routine, then plan to “practice” a couple of times before the first day. 

This is so beneficial if you are sending your first child off to school.  Mornings can be hectic and, in my house, can also be the time when frustration with each other can peak.  Maybe making lunches the night before works better for you and that becomes your nighttime routine.  Establish how things will run in the morning.  Will you have the kids up, dressed, and teeth brushed before breakfast or after?  What time is the goal time you want them at the breakfast table by?  What time do you need to ask them to get their shoes on and get out the door?  Figuring all of this out before your first day of school will help alleviate the craziness you may feel at night or in the morning!

Talk about what to expect. 

Whether this is your first kid going to school or your fifth, the first day of school presents some anxiety for children of all ages. A new teacher, new classmates, and new  expectations can be tough for any child to handle so talking about what the new school year will bring can help put their minds at ease.  If the teacher has provided her email address, it maybe helpful to have your child and the teacher do a couple of email exchanges before their first day.  It also will be helpful to identify a buddy that may be in your child’s class or possibly help your child make a buddy before the school year begins!

Start a countdown chain.

Many kids have a tough time understanding the concept of time and need a concrete way to help them understand the difference between the present and the future.  Starting a couple of weeks before school, make a paper chain and have your child rip one chain loop off for each day until the first day of school.  This concrete countdown puts a visual to the abstract image of the future and hopefully gets them excited to tear of a loop each day .

Paper chains are a concrete and fun way to countdown to any event!
Paper chains are a concrete and fun way to countdown to any event!

Relax, keep calm, and have the tissues ready.

If you are sending your little one off to kindergarten, this is a big life transition!  Even if your child is currently in daycare, there is something about the start of elementary school that gets most of us moms and dads a little choked up.  Honestly though, I cry each year because I am sad to see them go!  So have the tissues ready but keep your cool until you are out of sight.  We all know that kids can be affected by our emotions and although it is fine to express emotion in front of your children, the best time to have a good cry together might not be in the classroom right as you have to say goodbye for the day.

Overall, school is an exciting time for you and your child.  The more you talk about the positive experience they will have, plan, and prepare, the easier the transition will be!

What suggestions do you have to help you and your child ease back into the school year?



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