As the summer break comes to a close, most parents are busy preparing their children and themselves for the start of a new school year. While this transition seems to always sneak up on even the most well planned families, the first day of school doesn’t have to be stressful and chaotic.

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Here are a few tips for helping your family ease into the change:

  • Make sure your child knows what to expect from the coming school year. If he or she is starting at a new school or moving to a different building or campus, make sure to give them as much of a preview of this new location as possible. If the school offers them, be sure to attend a tour or meet and greet with the new teachers. While parents tend to think of this more with younger children just starting out, this can be helpful for those making the transition to middle or high school as well. If your child is not changing environments, make sure they know of new challenges this year may bring in terms of increased homework, changing classrooms for the first time, timed tests, etc.
  • Make sure your child has everything they need regarding their school day such as clothing or uniforms, supplies, and transportation plans. Making sure your child feels prepared will help deter any unnecessary fears or surprises.
  • Make sure all vaccines and school forms are up to date so this doesn’t create stress on the first week of school.
  • Start easing into the school day sleep schedule so it doesn’t hit them all at once. Start by slowly moving up the time they wake up to align with their school wake up time and move their bedtime up accordingly the next evening. This avoids the trap of trying to make them go to bed earlier after they slept later that morning and aren’t tired enough to fall asleep.
  • Sign your kids up for sports. Most sports not only provide great exercise, but also build team-work and confidence. Go for walks or bike rides as a family. It’s not only healthy, it’s fun for all!  It is recommended that 60 minutes of vigorous play/exercise should be done daily.
  • Growing kids get hungry between meals so having healthy snacks like fresh fruit, dried fruits, nuts, yogurt, or whole wheat crackers are important. Using an insulated pack makes it easier to send healthier snacks to school. Try to not have chips, candy, and soda available as options for snack time. Instead encourage and promote healthy choices for your children. And always remember, parents are role models for their children.  Watch what you snack on and choose to drink.
  • It is important to know how much screen time is too much prior to the start of school, and letting your child know when the new rules will begin. Using an app like Disney’s ‘Circle’ or ‘OurPact’ is a great way to start the process. Many studies have shown teens have an increased rate of anxiety and depression with the more screen time and social media used.