Off to A Good Start: Getting Kids Ready for School

kids holding hands with backpacks

It is that time of year again. Whether your child is doing virtual learning, a hybrid approach or going back to the physical classroom, it is the time of year to get ready. Back to school for 2020-2021 will look different to many families because of COVID-19. Whatever learning method your child will be facing, one thing is for sure: we can help children develop habits that will help them be successful academically and approach learning with greater confidence.

For school-age children that means change, and with that comes both anticipation and anxiety. Some will be starting school for the first time. Others will be experiencing the change between middle school/junior high and high school. Whatever the change, September is a time of both high hopes and great expectations for everyone – students, parents and teachers alike. It is a time when children need to adjust to a new routine as they relinquish the carefree days of summer, adjust to a new routine and teachers, as well as renewing relationships with peers.

For parents, it means juggling back-to-school shopping, packing lunches and establishing a schedule. These days can put many a parent into a tailspin as students rush home with a list of needs and activities that can overload even the most organized. This change of lifestyle is equally exciting and stressful, but this year, think about working toward a healthy routine before school starts, thus making the transition less hectic.

Take heart that these transitions are exciting opportunities for children, regardless of age, to learn and grow. With some preparation the back-to-school madness can be replaced by organization. The following are some surefire tips for making the trip back to the classroom easier and more fun for your kids.

Preparing your child for the new school year

The lazy, hazy days of summer are a terrific respite from school and the pressures that come with it, but are not so great for the self-discipline needed for scholastic success. Here are some ways to wind down from summer break.

Alter children’s summer schedule several weeks in advance of school’s start

Children who have grown accustomed to sleeping in will need to set their alarms and get up early. Likewise, those children who are used to staying up late will need to go to bed earlier. Create a bedtime routine of setting out clothes, bathing and reading quietly.

Make sure breakfast is part of the morning routine

Studies show “feeding their brain” helps improve kids’ performance.

Be enthusiastic about the upcoming change

If you are excited and confident, it is likely your child will be too. Point out the positive aspects of starting, such as seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Convey a sense of optimism about how things will go. Talk with your child about her feelings – both the excitement and concerns about starting school.

Remind your child that other children will be uneasy about school and that teachers will work to make everyone comfortable.

Read Next | How Parents Can Set Healthy Lifestyle Examples for Kids

Simplify back-to-school shopping but avoiding waiting until the last minute

Beforehand, make a supply list and take it along. Buy only the basics since some teachers may have specific expectations for the kind of material needed. Involving children in the planning and shopping helps kids prepare emotionally for the adjustment from summer vacation to school. It will help build anticipation for the school year.

Get back in the study habit now

If reading has slacked off this summer, get kids back in the habit by visiting the local library.

Limit the use of video games, computer surfing and TV. Instead, try playing boards games that stimulate vocabulary; for example, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, and Scrabble.

Set high expectations

Tell your child that you believe in their ability to work hard and do well. Be clear that school is a priority over extracurriculars, social activities or after-school jobs.

Regardless of age, children need support to become the best student they can be. They do better when families are involved, sending a powerful message that education is valuable. Parents and teachers share the same goal – that of your child’s successful and satisfying educational experience.


Dawn Marie Barhyte is a widely published author with over a hundred articles to her credit. A former early childhood educator and co-director who continues to touch the lives of families through her writing! She lives and works in the beautiful Hudson Valley, NY with her beloved husband and rescue chihuahua dachshund.

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