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8 Steps to Prepare for School

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Yikes! Here in California, some kids are already back to school. But if you are lucky/unlucky enough to still have some summer vacation left, here are some strategies for easing into the new school year.

Transition slowly from your summer schedule to your school hours and routines. One week before school starts, figure out your child’s school schedule. Have your kids go to bed and wake up in the morning at the times they will for school, and try to eat breakfast and dinner at the times they will on school days.

Some children are nervous about being left alone at school and will have a difficult time saying good-bye. Always remember that a short good-bye is better than a long one. When leaving your child at school on the first day, or when you say good-bye at the school bus stop, give your child a hug and a kiss and say “Have fun at school!” And then just walk away with a wave and a smile. If you are confident and excited about saying good-bye, then your child will have the same positive feelings.

Buy school supplies now while the local stores are fully stocked and having sales. Buy a sturdy backpack that is large enough to hold your child’s items, but not so big that your child cannot wear it comfortably. And when you do go shopping, take the kids with you. Let them try on the backpack to make sure it fits, and allow them to select their own school materials.

Some children, especially those going to a new school, are nervous about meeting new people. So before the school year begins, practice with your children what it will be like to meet their new teacher and new classmates. Explain that the first day of school is a good day for making a new friend. Tell your child to introduce themselves to at least one child who was not in their classroom last year. Talk about how most children are nervous, and that it is a kind thing to reach out to a new student who might not know anyone.

If your child is going to walk or ride their bike to school, you should practice the route with your child at least two times before the first day of school. If biking, teach your child to walk their bikes through all intersections and to bike in a single file. For the children who walk to school, see if you can find a walking buddy. If you walk are that buddy, look for other children and parents who live close to you and will also be walking the same path. And of course, if you drive children to school, always make sure every child is properly buckled every time!

Before the first day of school, set up a homework station at home. This will be the spot where your child does their homework every night, and also the spot where they keep a homework kit in this station. Buy a small plastic tote, and fill it with an assortment of school supplies, such as pens, pencils, a sharpener, paper, and markers. Then at homework time, your child goes to their station and has all needed suplies. This allows them to be organized and not to waste any time looking for what they need when they start their homework. And don’t forget to set up a small basket for yourself where you can keep school forms, lunch orders, and any items that need to be returned to school.

To make mornings easier, make lunches the night before, leaving only the refrigerated items to be packed in the morning. Have each child lay out their clothes, including shoes, the night before, and put their backpacks by the front door. Many parents find themselves needing to call out to their children several times before the kids actually get up. Decide with your children if they want you to wake them (once!) or if they want an alarm clock. Stick with whatever you choose together, but then make it your child’s responsibility to be up on time.

To help with keeping track of everyone’s schedules, post a family event calendar in a public place. Use magnets to attach the calendar to the refrigerator, or just hang it on the wall. Assign a different marker color to each family member, and write events in the corresponding color for each person. A bulletin board in the kitchen is also very helpful to post school lunch options, sports schedules, and notes that must go back to school. Take time every night to discuss the next day’s schedule and make sure all items are ready.

Here’s to the beginning of a great school year!

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