11 Tips For Back-To-School Success

Parenting Advice: 11 Tips For Back To School Success

Almost all of us dread the end of summer. Kids are reluctant to get back into the routine of early mornings, structured days and the homework that school brings. And, not surprisingly, many parents are also reluctant to get back into that routine, too! Whether your child is returning to preschool, elementary school or middle school, here are 11 tips to help make the transition back to school a success.

1. Scale back the bedtime hour. 
It's easy in the summer to let bedtime slide a little later. Start scaling back bedtime before school begins, and begin to mimic the impending wake up schedule. Sleep is an important factor in your child's school success.

"Research indicates that a mere 41 minutes of sleep deprivation begins to affect kids' mathematical skills and reading skills. Children who get the recommended amount of sleep have higher grades. They have better mathematical skills and higher reading scores. They have better focus and attention. There are fewer fights. There are fewer accidents. They don't get sick. They even have fewer cavities and gum disease and they're less susceptible to Type II diabetes and obesity," said Mary Sheedy Kurcinka in the forthcoming book 20 Great Ways to Raise Great Kids

Check the sleep recommendations below to make sure that your child is getting adequate shut-eye. (Contact me at if you have bedtime hassles with your kids that feel too tough to tackle on your own. I've helped hundreds of parents get their kids to bed on time and get optimal sleep).

Here are sleep guidelines recommended by

  • Ages 3-6 need 10 ¾-12 hours of sleep
  • Ages 7-12 need 9 ¼-10 ½ hours of sleep
  • Ages 12-18 need 8 ¼-9 ½ hours of sleep

2. Shop early for school supplies with your child.
Your child will gain a sense of ownership by picking his/her own supplies.

3. Create a homework basket. 
While you're shopping for school supplies, have your child pick a homework basket. This basket should contain all of the supplies that will be necessary to complete homework (lots of pencils and erasers, a ruler, scissors, paper, markers, etc.). These supplies should be used exclusively for homework to prevent dawdling/excuses when it comes time to do get it done.

4. Find kid-friendly breakfast and lunch ideas.
Shop for easy, nutritious foods that pack a lot of protein into your child's diet. Protein enhances neural connections in the brain. Complex carbohydrates help sustain energy.

5. Get yourself organized. 
Develop a filing system for all of the paperwork that comes home.

6. Review bus safety rules.
Your child's bus driver will surely appreciate this, and you can make sure your child rides safely.

7. Shop for a first day of school outfit.
If you can afford it, let your child start school in a fun new outfit that will feel special. If not, try embellishing an old favorite to make it seem fresh.

8. Develop morning strategies. 
Do as much as you can the night before each schoolday. Check the weather forecast with your child and pre-select an outfit with together that's weather-appropriate. Make sure his/her homework and supplies are in the backpack at night. Have lunches or snacks pre-packed. Post a picture chart with your child's morning duties in a prominent place, and have your them check the tasks off as they are completed. Time how long the morning routine should take... and add 10 minutes.

9. Meet the teacher. 
If your school hosts a meet-the-teacher event or open house, be sure to go. Ask the teacher for an outline of the day's activities so you can prepare your child. Also ask the teacher's expectations for homework. Take a picture of your child with his/her teacher and post it on the fridge at home. Make sure your child knows his/her way around the school. Set up a play date if your child knows even one other child in the class.

10. End of the summer ritual. 
It can be helpful to create a ritual with your kids that signals the end of summer. It might be creating a scrapbook of the summer's events, or going to an amusement park for one last hurrah.

11. Duplicate school rules. 
Once school has started, ask your child what the rules are in his/her classroom. (for example, no putdowns). Try to mimic the language that's being used in the classroom at home to reinforce the lessons in both places.

By taking these steps, you'll be preparing your child to start the school year prepared for success.

Article by Toni Schutta, M.A.,L.P.,National Speaker and Author of the forthcoming book, 20 Great Ways to Raise Great Kids. Toni is the Parent Coach Who Gets Results from For the free report, "Three Essential Strategies for Getting Your Kids to Listen the First Time" go to now.

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