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Some Back to School Tips for Parents

I am sure that as a parent you know that preparation is key when it comes to helping kids prepare to return to school. I thought I'd share with you what other parents have shared with me. And this especially true nowadays. After all, it has been months since your children have experienced what we all refer to as "normalcy". It seems that our kids will return to school soon and it is important that you use this time to help them prepare. So what can each of you do? Glad you asked. Let's start with something simple and straightforward. Connect you child with friends and classmates in the neighborhood or from the previous school year. These connections can help reinforce the idea for kids that they're all in it together. It also helps them get excited to go back to school if they know their friends will be there. 

If your child is starting school for the first time or are in a new area, and doesn't know anyone in their age group, contact the school, local community center or religious organization to find a peer group and connect them. A back-to-school party can be a great way to start the school year on a positive note and reconnect your child with friends new and old. Attending back-to-school nights or open house with your child can be a great introduction to not only the physical school environment but also the social environment. Doing this will enable your child to see the classroom and tour the other areas of the school, and perhaps meet other students. If possible, you should be there when you child meets a new teacher

Probably one of the most important things you can do is to figure out how to ease any of your child's anxieties about returning to school full time. It is advised that you should ease how your child gets back into a school schedule. Experts will tell you that about a couple of weeks before school starts, have your child prepare by starting morning and end-of-day routines. It is especially important to reestablish bedtimes and set an alarm in the morning, which can get earlier every day until you reach the school-day wake-up time. By going through what school mornings will look like can help kids (and you the parents) get ready for the year ahead. This could mean making them breakfast in the morning, putting together lunches, and helping them choose outfits. Especially for younger children, it can be helpful to select outfits together a week ahead of time. Take a drive to the bus stop or to the school at the time you will be leaving in the morning to get a feel for how long it will take, but take into consideration the likelihood of increased traffic typical with the start of a new school year.

While you are still enjoying summer months, you may want to consider to encourage learning during this timeframe, but at the same time allow children to have their downtime before school starts. Most teachers begin the school year by reviewing last year's curriculum to refresh the memory and give kids the best foundation for learning new material. Drilling kids before school starts can have an adverse effect and drive anxiety by highlighting how much they've forgotten.

Hopefully your child's schools will provide an informational packet before the school year begins. This packet will often include things such as a school-year calendar, bus routes, and emergency contact forms. Marking down dates on a calendar can help ensure nothing is missed and allows you to plan ahead and make room in your schedule to attend events. Be sure to read through all information provided and fill out any forms, making note of when these are due—whether that's on the first day of school or beforehand. Be sure to include any forms that are due on the first day in your child's backpack, and let your child know what to do with these forms. For younger children, you might want to hand-deliver the forms to the teacher or school office on the first day.

This has the potential to be a stressful time for you as a parent as well as your children. Take a collective deep breath and know that everything will fall into place, for all of you. It usually happens that way. After a year of being home-bound and computer educated, it is very likely you child will welcome the start of a new school year and in-person learning. Embrace the change.

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