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10 Tips to preparing for a successful school year

The summer days are still long and warm, but there are the tell-tale signs of the waning days… school has either just started or is getting ready to start for kids all across the country. The first day of school is a one some parents look forward to with relish, while others dread. It can be tough to transition back to a more regimented schedule for both parents and kids. Getting back in the groove of packing lunches, restarting carpools for after-school activities, meeting new teachers and sitting down each night to help with homework can be stressful. Here’s a list of 10 things you can do to be sure you and your child feel mentally prepared for the new school year ahead:

  1. Talk about it. Ask your child how they are feeling about school starting. This can be especially important if they are starting kindergarten or their first year at a new school. Are they excited? Anxious? Scared? Talking about the school year can help them feel more prepared about what to expect and gives you the opportunityfirst day of school elementary girl to help ease their fears and shift the focus to the positives. Bus rides, new experiences and friends old and new are fun things to look forward to each day.
  2. Meet the Teacher. Kids like to know what to expect. Taking the opportunity to meet their teacher in advance will likely make them feel more comfortable walking into the classroom on the first day of school. This can be a gamechanger for parents as well, as it opens the communication lines for the school year, creating an opportunity to partner with the teacher in your child’s education. This will also show your child that you support them and care about what goes on in their daily routine at school, even though you may not be present.
  3. Supplies: Get the kids involved in picking up new school supplies. Who doesn’t like a backpack with binders, pens, pencils… and a new lunch box? It’s a fun way to generate excitement and doesn’t have to break the bank. Many office supply stores have penny sales starting in late summer all the way through September. Another option is to take your child to a dollar store and let them choose how to spend $5.00 on school supplies. By giving them a sense of control, it can help generate excitement and ease anxiety.
  4. Set up a Homework Zone: Designate a place in your home and decorate it as the homework zone. This can be in an office, bedroom or even the corner of the living room or dining room. Just be sure that it is free of clutter and distractions. Put up some fun art, hang a calendar, map, or cork board for displaying their school projects. Create a small reading nook or corner with a clock for getting in their assigned reading time each day. Let them help design the space that they will thrive in.
  5. Meet potential classmates. We all remember calling all of our friends after class lists were posted to find out who was in our class. It was such a relief to know that at least one or two of our friends were in the same class as us. If you have a large school, there is a chance that your child could be in a classroom with mostly kids they don’t know. You can help with this before the new school year by keeping an eye out for local events during late summer. These often offer opportunities for them to meet other kids in the community or strengthen relationships with kids they know but not well. You can also consider posting on social media sites like Next Door to see if there are other families with kids in the same class that you can meet up with ahead of time.
  6. Well checks and prescriptions:   Be sure to get your child’s well check before school starts to be sure they are up to date on all immunizations. Also, if your child will need to take any medication while at school, ask your pharmacist to divide it into two bottles (both clearly labeled and with detailed instructions) to keep one at school and one at home. Be sure to consult with the school nurse and/or teacher, about administering medications.
  7. Slumber leads to Success. Start easing kids back into a regular sleep schedule in the week or two prior to the first day. If you adjust bedtime (and wake-up time if necessary) 15-20 minutes each night, you can get them back on track in plenty of time so their first day is bright eyed and bushy tailed instead of sleepy and grumpy.
  8. Feed them well. Start to get back into a “school week” meal routine. It’s easy during the summer to become a bit more lenient with meals and snacks, but you can start stocking up on school lunch food and be more intentional with putting well-balanced meals and healthy snacks in front of them throughout the day. If you start a week or two leading up to the school year kickoff, they’ll likely get less used to grazing all day long. Taking kids grocery shopping with you and allowing them to choose what they want from a parent-approved list will mean they are more likely to eat what is in their new lunchbox.
  9. Confirm, Reset or Create a Carpool. Whether you work outside the home or not, carpooling is a great way to work together with other friends in your community to help save time and fuel getting your children where they need to go. If you are taking part in a group carpool, create a shared calendar to clearly communicate who is driving and when. Share the schedule with your children as well so they also know what to expect. There are some great apps available such as GoKid and Carpool-Kids for your mobile device that will not only share the schedule amongst all users but can even send traffic alerts and notify all parties when children have been picked up and dropped off safely.  
  10. Celebrate! New year, new season, new opportunities to meet new friends… sounds like a reason to celebrate! Just as we love to celebrate a successful school year with a summer kickoff party, we can also celebrate a successful summer with a school kickoff party. Bring the neighborhood together for one last summer gathering as you wish all of the kids (and parents) a successful year ahead!

- Guest Blogger: Laura Clavero, American Pacific Mortgage Processing Manager


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