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6 Parent Tips for a Smooth Back-to-School Transition

By Melissa A. Kay

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The start of school brings a lot of changes—new teachers, new schedules and new school demands. Planning is key to a successful transition. Here are six parent-tested tips for back-to-school.

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Father tucking his young son in for bed
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Adjust bedtime gradually.

Make bedtime earlier each day until school begins. A subtle change each night won’t be obvious to your child.

“I got my 6-year-old ready for a new bedtime before school. A longer night’s sleep would help him concentrate. We got new stuffed bears that only ‘played in bed’ and it was his job to get them to fall asleep. Soon, he was asleep too, and well rested for school.”
Heather A., Huntington, New York

Mother and son shopping for school supplies
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Make shopping for school supplies a team effort.

Getting kids involved in the planning stages can make the actual transition to school easier.

“Focusing on the big picture helps me handle back-to-school prep with a purpose—staying positive. When buying school supplies, I created a scavenger hunt with my 6-year-old son to help gather the items. If we miss some crayons, we don’t sweat it.”
Andrew L., Maplewood, New Jersey

Mother and two children reading together outside on the grass
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Make reading fun and fundamental.

Summer may have been a mini-vacation from reading. But finding fun ways to read before school starts can help ease the transition.

“Read your kid’s favorite books as part of family fun night. Some evenings, let him read. Encourage different voices for the characters. This helped with our seventh-grader’s attention issues and got him to look forward to new books.”
Susan B., Cleveland

Mother helping daughter pick out clothes in a store
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Focus on appearances.

Being happy with how they look can give kids confidence and let them focus on their work instead of on their wardrobe. Giving your child a say in back-to-school shopping can go a long way.

“My 14-year-old daughter couldn’t concentrate if she was focused on her appearance. We got that under wraps by shopping together for school clothes. With that off her mind, she could focus in class with confidence.”
Patti M., Oceanside, New York

Brother and sister walking to school with new backpacks
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Get colorful with everyday supplies.

If you have more than one child, assign a color to each. From backpacks to lunch boxes to folders, let each child have a personal color scheme. This can make it easier to pack for school.

“We have two kids with special needs and learning issues. When we decided to let each child pick a color for all their school items, it made the morning ritual so much simpler.”
Harold D., Aurora, Ohio

Mother talking and coaching her daughter on her morning routine
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Build excitement before the first day back.

Talking about school as summer winds down can build excitement. It can also bring out some of the concerns kids have. Knowing what they are is the first step toward finding solutions.

“My 8-year-old worried she wouldn’t remember her classmates’ names. We spoke to her teacher before school and she agreed my daughter could make name tags for her classmates. It eased her worries and the class loved it!”
Jennifer B., Staten Island, New York

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About the Author

Melissa Kay

Melissa A. Kay

Melissa A. Kay is a writer, editor and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in the publishing field in the areas of family, beauty, health, employment, lifestyle and more.

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