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School starts Monday – are you ready?

The transition from the last day of summer to the first day of school can be hectic and stressful, but with a bit of proper planning that first week can go smoothly and with a minimal amount of fussing.

Getting a new school year off to a good start can influence children’s attitude, confidence, and performance both socially and academically. Even children who are eager to return to class must adjust to the greater levels of activity, structure and, for some, pressures associated with school life.

The degree of adjustment depends on the child, but parents can help their children – and the rest of the family – manage the increased pace of life by not only planning ahead, but also being realistic and maintaining a positive attitude. Here are a few suggestions to help ease the transition and promote a successful school experience:

At the end of day 1

• Review all of the information sent by the school as soon as it arrives for important information about your child’s teacher, school supply requirements, sign ups for after-school sports and activities, school calendar dates, bus transportation, health and emergency forms and volunteer opportunities.

• Mark your calendar. Make a note of important dates, especially back-to-school nights. This is especially important if you have children in more than one school and need to juggle obligations. Arrange for a babysitter now, if necessary.

• Designate and clear a place to do homework. Older children should have the option of studying in their room or a quiet area of the house. Younger children usually need an area set aside in the family room or kitchen to facilitate adult monitoring, supervision, and encouragement.

• Select a spot to keep backpacks and lunch boxes. Designate a spot for your children to place their school belongings as well as a place to put important notices and information sent home for you to see. Explain that emptying their backpack each evening is part of their responsibility, even for young children.

Advice for the first week

• Make lunches the night before school. Older children should help or make their own. Give them the option to buy lunch in school if they prefer and finances permit.

• Set alarm clocks. Have school-age children set their own alarm clocks to get up in the morning. Praise them for prompt response to morning schedules and bus pickups.

• Leave plenty of extra time. Make sure your child has plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast, and get to school. For very young children taking the bus, pin to their shirt or backpack an index card with pertinent information, including their teacher’s name and bus number, as well as your daytime contact information.

• Review with your child what to do if he or she gets home after school, and you are not there. Be very specific, particularly with young children. Put a note card in their backpack with the name(s) and number(s) of a neighbor who is home during the day as well as a number where you can be reached.

• Send a brief note to your child’s teacher. Let the teachers know that you are interested in getting regular feedback on how and what your child is doing in school. Be sure to attend back-to-school night and introduce yourself to the teachers. Find out how they like to communicate with parents (i.e., through notes, e-mail, or phone calls). Convey a sincere desire to be a partner with your children’s teachers to enhance their learning experience.

• Source National Association of School Psychologists

Mary Beth Alexander was so excited to drop off her school supplies Thursday as her teacher, Mrs. Francie Chambers, watches.

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