Eight ways to keep school days from becoming school daze

Children are going back to school this month, but the transition doesn't have to be hectic.
(C. Reinicke)

Preparation, organization and conversation can help ease the transition back to classes for your children and yourself.


Balancing schedules, shopping for supplies, planning meals and readjusting to the routine — whether you’re dreading hectic school days or excited for your children to be returning to the classroom this month, most parents agree that the transition back to school can be a stressful time.

Making it as smooth as possible requires a team effort. Here are eight ways to help make the new school year easier on your kids and yourself:

Start your routines: Getting your kids into their school-day routines may be a big undertaking, but it’s often helpful to start at least a week before the first bell rings. Set your alarms and encourage kids to treat each morning as if they’re going to class. In the evenings, practice prepping backpacks and outfits, just as you would during the school year, and ensure your children are going to sleep at the times they should on school nights.

Take a trial run: Ask your school if you can take an after-hours tour to increase familiarity and practice your routine. According to KinderCare’s Parent Confidence Report, 61 percent of parents believe being a parent means constantly thinking about child care gaps, so now is the time to make before- and after-school care arrangements and discuss them with your children. Help ease their nerves by making sure they practice the little things like opening and closing lunchboxes, water bottles and backpacks and finding their drop-off and pickup locations. Then adjust as needed to make sure they feel confident in each of the tasks.

Start back-to-school conversations at home: Children sometimes experience big feelings and they may not know how to explain what they’re experiencing. Whether it’s excitement, jitters or anxiety about the unknown, having open conversations at home about school can give children a comfortable space to share what they feel and help quell their nerves. This also is a good time to gently remind your children about the importance of good behavior toward others. During the school year, continue to keep an eye on your children’s behavior to better understand how they may be doing.

Set school-year goals: These don’t have to be formal; they can be fun, too. It may help your children understand what they’re working toward. Maybe they want to try a new sport or learn a musical instrument. Maybe they would like to increase their math grade or demonstrate more patience while learning new things. Make a mental note to continuously revisit the goals throughout the year to celebrate progress and growth. Watch for ways you can help them accomplish their objectives with support from counselors, coaches and instructors, as well as at home.

Preparing backpacks and lunches the night before can make your school mornings less stressful.
Preparing backpacks and lunches the night before can make your school mornings less stressful.
(Getty Images)

Prep the night before: Stressful mornings can lead to less-productive days. Instead, simplify your school mornings by preparing backpacks, lunches and outfits in the evenings to save yourself time once the alarm goes off. Plus, you may be less likely to forget essentials such as homework assignments and permission slips when you’re not in a rush.

Create a family calendar: The school year isn’t the only time calendars seem like they’re bursting at the seams, but the addition of after-school activities, field trips, parent-teacher conferences and more can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared. Find a scheduling solution that works for your family, whether it’s a dry-erase board or a magnetic calendar. Stay on top of upcoming events and activities by sitting down together once a week (or more) to write down everyone’s commitments and track important dates.

Serve nutritional after-school snacks: Skip the temptation to stock the pantry with sugary grab-and-go treats. Instead, encourage good nutritional choices for your children after a day of learning by offering them healthier snacking solutions. For example, pairing cottage cheese with crackers or fresh fruit provides a protein punch without added sugar to keep your kids full until it’s time for a family meal.

Build strong home and school partnerships: One of the best things you can do for your children is give them the resources they need for success and then support them along the way. One way to do this is by building partnerships with your children’s teachers to create a strong foundation for the entire school year. Whether it’s joining the local parent group at school, downloading a classroom app, following the school’s social media pages or sending an informal “getting to know you” email to your children’s teachers, consistent and effective communication often is beneficial when you face challenges or have questions down the road. ◆