With a new school year “just around the corner,” parents are trying to get kids back into the routine.  This is an excellent idea.  It helps the child mentally and physically.  

Tips from Scholastic.com (July 2006) to help kids back into the routine are listed.

1. Restart Routines.  

Kids need time to adjust, so provide a head start.  

Begin by making bedtime earlier and dust off the alarm clock. Aim to serve meals at approximately the same times your child will be eating throughout the school year.  

To make sure your morning time is right, stage a test run.  Have them ready to go by the time the bus or carpool would arrive-then remind them they still have a few days of summer left!

2. Go Over Ground Rules.  

Decide when and where they will do homework.  Be sure to cover tricky topics: can they watch TV after they finish their work? When is the caffeine cut-off? What about chores?

Establishing guidelines and going over them together will make sure you’re on the same page once school’s in session.  Some families even draw up a written contract spelling out expectations for everyone in the family.

3. De-Stress Dressing.  

Let your child choose special first-day clothes.  To avoid arguing over school appropriate clothes, bring the fall wardrobe front and center in the closet.

4. Develop a Game Plan-Together.  

Discuss goals for the upcoming year. Talk about skills the child would like to improve.  

Goals might include:

• Making the honor roll

• Help a new student adjust

• Become captain of the chess team or a spelling bee finalist

• Make three new friends or try sitting at a different lunch table every week

Listen and ask questions. Setting their own priorities will make them more meaningful.          

Throughout the year, track their progress and encourage their efforts.

5. Keep Passions in Play.

If your child became a weaving whiz at summer camp or a diving champ at the local pool,  keep it going.  

Integrate new summer hobbies into the school year by finding after-school clubs or groups that will let them continue to do the cool new things they tried this summer.

6. Summon the Learning Spirit.  

Assign creative “homework” as summer wanes:  ask them to identify a paw print in the park or photograph something that changes colors.  

Make family flashcards and quiz each other:  what was the farthest you went from home this summer? Who got the most bug bites? What did you like most (and least) about your summer?

7. Take a Family Field Trip.  

Plan one last fact-packed trip to top off months of water parks and baseball games.  

You don’t have to go far: whether you pick an aquarium or a modern art museum, the combination of fun and learning is sure to help get kids back into school spirit.

8. Set up a Homework Area.  

Create a quiet, well-lit space for study. Prevent first day freak-outs by hauling out the necessities: backpack, dictionary, atlas, calculator, art supplies, paper, pencils, etc.  

Make it personal and fun, but free from distractions.

9. Sharpen Skills.  

Add more factual brain-bending activities into the everyday mix.  

Sudoku games, crossword puzzles, word searches, and trivia all encourage your child to sit still, focus, and complete a task from start to finish.

10. Go for a Test Run.  

Take a trip to school and get familiar with the new classroom. Make sure to find the cafeteria, gym, theater, and library. Don’t forget the bathrooms!  

It’s also a good time to size up cubbies, try out lockers, and locate a pay phone and/or the office.  

The first trip back might prompt an attack at the end-of-summer bummers, so stop for a fun treat on the way home and remind them that they are well prepared.

These tips can make your child’s first day of school less stressful for the child AND you!

Rita Hodges is the Ellis  County Extension Agent-Family & Consumer Sciences. Contact Rita at 972-825-5175 or rmhodges@ag.tamu.edu.