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Back to School Tips for Parents by Dr. Jen Leggour, Psy.D.

With the beginning of the school year quickly approaching, is your family ready for this transition? Is your child ready to succeed? Instead of waiting until the last minute, now is the time to begin preparing for the back-to-school transition. Here are some helpful tips for parents who want to have an active role in making this transition successful.
Discuss the transition – Check in with your child and see how he/she feels about returning to school. Ask what he/she is looking forward to, what fears he/she may have, and what he/she needs to feel successful. Also ask if there is anything that he/she wants to complete before the end of the summer such as camps, activities, seeing friends, etc. Develop a plan for addressing these things and addressing the transition back to school. Talk about preparations that the family will be making to get ready. Most children like visuals, so it would be helpful to write it down or use a calendar to show your plans.
Adjust your child’s schedule – Typically schedules are more flexible in the summer and often bedtime is later. Begin a schedule where you gradually transition back to the school bedtime and wake up time. This should be achieved about one to two weeks before school starts.
Check on educational tasks – Many schools give reading lists and packets of work for the summer. If your school does, now is a good time to review progress on this list. Begin assigning some additional educational tasks to assist in refreshing study habits and basic skills. Reading in general is a good way to stimulate the brain and it can be an activity that you do together.
Prepare a study area – About one to two weeks before school starts, set up a special place in your home where your child can do school work and homework. Make sure it is free from distractions and incorporates things that your child prefers for studying. This shows your child that education is important to your family and that you support them.
Communicate with teachers and the school — Contact your child’s teachers at the start of the school year or attend an open house. Get acquainted with them and let them know you want to be an active partner in helping your student to learn and grow. Plan to keep track of your child’s subjects, homework, activities and progress throughout the school year. And, consider serving on your local PTA or joining other parent groups that engage with and support your child’s school.
Shop now – Plan ahead for school shopping so that it is less stressful and more enjoyable. Schools typically send out a list of what is required and many local stores have the list available. You may want to call the stores first to check availability of the supplies needed in order to reduce running around. In collaboration with your student write a list of additional items they need including clothing. This will assist in budgeting and establishing expectations before you arrive at the store.
Take your child to the doctor, and make sure your child has health insurance coverage — It’s a good idea to take your child in for a physical and an eye exam before school starts. Most schools require up-to-date immunizations, and you may be asked to provide paperwork showing that your child has all the necessary shots.
Provide healthy meals — Good nutrition plays an important role in your child’s school performance. Studies show that children who eat healthy, balanced breakfasts and lunches do better in school. Make sure your child has a good breakfast and fix nutritious meals at home. If you need extra help, find out if your family qualifies for any Child Nutrition Programs, like the National School Lunch Program.
Offer coping skills for stress — Parents can soothe the transition back to school by supplying children with tools to help them process their emotions. Here is a list of activities and tools to help calm tension and ease nervous as the school year progresses.

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