Summer break is coming to an end, and if your kids are anything like mine, they have been sleeping in, playing outside, and getting entirely too much screen time! With most schools starting in the next few weeks, it is the perfect time to start getting your kids acclimated to a daily routine to make the first day back to school so much easier!

Get Their Sleep/Wake Up Routine Started

One of the most challenging parts of getting ready for school is waking up early.  Many kids have spent the summer staying up later and sleeping in every day. So, that 7:00 AM alarm can be a tough pill to swallow.  To make the first day of school easier to handle, it’s best to start getting your kids to bed earlier and waking them up on time. Do this a few weeks in advance to get them acclimated to their new wake-up time.  Use this as a practice run for getting ready for school in the morning.  You and your kids can experiment with the morning routine to see what works best for your family– For us, we eat breakfast and brush our teeth before getting dressed for the day, and we always make sure to add some extra time for the days when we are dragging a little slower than others. By starting the new morning routine a few weeks in advance, you can make tweaks once you’ve figured out how long it takes your kids to get ready in the morning and adjust from there to ensure that you and your kids will be on time for school. 

Work on Self-Care Skills

If you’ve got little kids, then you know that our littlest ones struggle with the skills needed to get themselves dressed, go to the bathroom, or open up their lunch box and everything inside on their own.  When you’ve only got a few kids at home of all different ages, it’s a little more feasible to help our babies accomplish these tasks.  However, in an elementary school classroom, your child’s teacher is taking care of up to 30 little kids with similar development and skill levels. So the more independent your child is in these areas, the better off they’ll be once they get to school.  Spend a couple of weeks before the start of school helping your child learn how to dress themselves, go to the bathroom on their own (including washing their hands), and put on their shoes. If your little one struggles with butting their pants, tying their shoes, or zippers, you can work on these things together or keep that in mind while school clothes shopping.  There are many options for velcro or slip-on shoes and stretchy pants that don’t require additional help from the teacher.  I also like to take the time to pack my child’s lunch in their school lunch box so they can practice getting it out of their backpack, opening the different items inside their lunch, and cleaning up after themselves when they’re done. Helping them learn to be independent can give them the confidence to get through the school day; as a bonus, it takes some of the weight off of the teacher too! 

Role Play Common School Situations

This is crucial for kiddos starting in preschool or kindergarten this year.  Not knowing how school works can make your kids feel very uneasy and anxious about going to school and how they’ll be expected to behave. So start working with your kids through role-playing games that help them prepare for real-world situations in school.  For example, you can have your kiddo practice raising their hand when they have a question or need something. You should have them practice asking various questions, such as “May I go to the bathroom?” or “Can I borrow some crayons?”. I also like to have my children practice how to introduce themselves to new kids and ask their names to help my kids develop their social skills and give them a leg up on making new friends.

Another important thing you can help your child prepare for is sitting still and paying attention.  For younger kids who don’t have experience in school, this task alone can be incredibly overwhelming. Help your child develop the ability to sit quietly by having them sit down and listen to a book, put a puzzle together, color a coloring book page, etc.  Anything that requires them to sit quietly and focus their attention on one particular thing for any length of time is a great start!

Get Them An Appointment With Their Doctor

Making sure your kids are up to date on their immunizations and getting their annual checkups out of the way is so important! Not only are many childhood vaccinations required by schools, but they can help your child avoid sick days that interrupt their learning. At your annual checkup, ensure your doctor is prepared to check your child’s hearing and eyesight to ensure that everything is in tip-top shape for the start of school. Doing this ahead of time allows you to address any potential need for a hearing or vision aid like glasses or hearing aids that will make the school day much easier for your child. Many times vision or hearing problems go undiagnosed and cause unnecessary stress and struggle to your child’s school experience.  It’s better to ensure your child has all the tools they need to succeed before that first day of school.

Take them School Supply Shopping

Each year your child’s teacher should provide you with a list of items they’ll need to be successful in the classroom.  Part of the fun of getting your kiddo ready for school is taking them out and finding all the items they need to be well prepared for school!  Growing up, I always had so much fun picking out my folders, pencils, and everything Lisa Frank. Now, as a mom, I always enjoy seeing what my kids will pick out to express themselves with their school supplies. While we’re talking about school supplies, there is another school year tradition that I encourage you to participate in if you can.  We all know that the cost of school supplies can get overwhelming, especially for families with financial difficulty.  So while I’m purchasing my kids’ school supplies, I also like to buy extra of each item (or as many as I can afford) to send with my child on the first day of school.  My kids then give the extra items to their teacher to help those in the class who need them. This also gives you the perfect opportunity to teach your kids about generosity and helping others less fortunate than themselves.

Getting your kiddos ready for school can be a little intimidating and stressful, but I hope that with these tips, you and your kiddo will be well on their way to a fantastic school year!