Back to School: 10 Tips for a Smooth Start

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by: Lindsay Hutton
Back to school is a major milestone in your child's life, so it's normal for him to have some first day jitters. These tips can help calm your child's nerves, and make the transition from home to school a little easier, leaving him with a feeling of excitement instead of anxiety.
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Meet Her New Teacher
Entering a classroom full of new faces can be stressful for anyone, especially a young child who hasn't spent a lot of time away from home yet. Most schools will have an open house to give you a chance to stop in and meet the teacher together. Be sure to attend, so your child will see at least one familiar face on the first day. If your child is younger, try to arrange a play date with other children that will be in her classroom in the fall, too. She'll be so excited to see her friends on the first day of school, she'll forget all about being nervous!
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Tour the School (Especially the Bathroom!)
Your little one will feel a little more comfortable if she knows her way around the classroom. When you go to meet the teacher, make sure to give your child the lay of the land. If the school is new to her, point out where the bathroom is, and review the route with her so she knows exactly how to get there. This will help avoid any embarrassing accidents.

Other important areas to point out are the nurse's station and the school office. Chances are, your child won't be wandering around the school alone, but if she finds himself separated from her classroom, she'll know where to go.

Kindergartenboydrawing
Prepare with Summer Learning
Avoid summer brain drain and keep your child in learning mode with grade-specific activities and printables during the summer. Find out what your child will be learning during the school year, and choose appropriate learning games and experiments that allow him to have a little fun while preparing for the fall!
Younggirleatingapackedschoollunch
Make a Kid-Friendly Lunch
Be eco-friendly, and give your child a cool way to carry her lunch at the same time, with fun, reusable lunch containers. Just be sure the containers are easy for little hands to open. Pack your child's lunches with all her favorite nutritious foods to keep her energized all day and ready to learn. You can even pack a little note of encouragement along with her food, so she knows you are thinking about her on her big day.

Also, be conscious of any foods that are not allowed in your child's classroom, due to food allergies. Most schools will make you aware of any policies they may have in place.

Youngboyreadyforschoolwithbookbag
Start Your School Schedule Early
Adjusting from a lazy summer schedule to a hectic fall schedule can be tough. To make the transition a little easier, start your back-to-school schedule before the summer comes to a close. By slowly easing your child into his new bedtime and wake-up, he'll have no problem hopping out of bed on the first day of school. Preparing a special breakfast on his first day is also a good way to lure him out of bed and get him excited for his new adventure.
Younggirlgettingonschoolbus
Drive the Bus Route
A bus ride can be a scary experience, especially for a small child. The bus driver is a stranger, and some kids are too small to see out the window, making it hard for them to know if they are at the right stop. It's easy to see why the bus can be the most nerve-wracking part of a new school year.

Drive the bus route with your child a few times before her first bus ride. Point out landmarks, time how long the ride will take, and help her count the stops to and from school. It is also helpful to write down your child's bus number in her notebook in the event she gets confused and doesn't remember it herself.

Afterschoolgirls'soccergame
Get Involved in an After-School Activity
Finding an after-school hobby your child enjoys will give her something to look forward to and will make her excited to head back to the classroom. After-school activities can range from play dates at a friend's house, an organized sport, or classes that offer arts and crafts or other creative activities.

Just remember not to over-schedule your child. She still needs time to relax and re-energize after a long day of school, so try to get her involved in something that she enjoys and will help relieve any stress from the day.

Motherservingfamilydinner
Talk About it at Dinner
Ask your child if she has any jitters or worries about her first day of school, and how you can help. Talking about her anxiety and allowing her to express her fears openly may be enough to calm her down. Help your child come up with a game plan to deal with any situations that may seem stressful to her, and let her know she can always go to her teacher for help.

It is also acceptable to allow your child to be a little clingy the first few days back to school. Children need their parents to help them make a smooth transition, so if she wants you to walk her into the classroom for the first week, go ahead and do it. Gradually encourage your child to feel comfortable going it alone.

Younggirlstudentwithbookbag
Buy a First Day Outfit
New clothes can get any fashionista excited for a big event. Buy your child a special first-day-of-school outfit to get her started on the right foot. She'll feel confident walking through the door of her new classroom if she is wearing new threads that the two of you picked out together! For a younger child, be sure that her new clothes are kid-friendly, and she can easily undo any buttons or snaps when she needs to use the bathroom.
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Get Involved with Your Child's School
A good way to support your child in school is to get involved. Volunteer to be a classroom helper a few days a week, or join the local Parent Teacher Association (PTA). That way, if your child is struggling or is having a hard time with a particular classmate, you'll know who can remedy the situation. This can also help you relate to your child's teacher, and enable you to work together if your child has any special needs.