1. Provide perspective.
Explain in terms your child will understand that school begins in, say, 21 breakfasts or 15 more good night hugs. Make a countdown chart so your little one can track when school starts and get excited about it.
2. Designate a “new stuff” zone.
Choose a location—a desk in your child’s room or a spot near the door—to stash school belongings, including a backpack, lunch bag, crayons, and folders. Make it easy for your little one to find these items and bring them to school on Day 1.
3. Buy school supplies early.
Allow your student to choose his own essentials—as long as they meet the teacher’s requirements. Check must-have lists online. Grab an extra spiral notebook, a binder, a two-pocket folder, crayons, glue sticks or paste, and scissors, and keep them as backups at the house.
4. Encourage self-expression.
Buy, customize, or recycle a coveted yet practical backpack your learner can get really excited about and can’t wait to use.
5. Make the most of the days before school starts.
Set aside a day for your child to tour the school and meet her teacher. Visit the school library, the cafeteria, and the gym. Investigate the playground. Let her try out the climbers, slides, and swings.
6. Go shopping.
Buy school clothes early to take advantage of sales and get your child excited. Consider splurging on a special item that will make him particularly proud or eager to wear.
7. Help forge friendships.
Host a few short and sweet play dates for your child’s bus or carpool buddies and classmates. Provide ample opportunities for him to make friends.
8. Finalize transportation.
Walk or drive to school and explore different ways to get there. Time each route. If your little one rides the bus, make sure you both know where the bus stop is and are familiar with pick-up and drop-off times and locations.
9. Establish a kid-smart schedule.
If the house bedtime routine fell apart this summer, implement a new, non-negotiable timetable now. Start your p.m. wind-down several minutes earlier each night over a two-week period and do the same for wakeups. You’ll want to leave enough time so that your student can dress, eat breakfast, and be out the door at an agreed-upon time in the morning. Save morning stress by having two outfits ready for her to choose from and by making a brown bag lunch the night before.
10. Calm the jitters.
Read and discuss books about going to school as a way to reduce fears and ease worries. Talk about things your child will learn at school and what will be exciting and new. Plan a special celebration to mark the end of summer. Try dinner at a favorite restaurant, a trip to the amusement park, or a campout in the backyard. Just don’t do these things the night before your child starts school.