Is Your Child Ready For School? Are You?


Anticipation builds as the new school year approaches. Every year my kids become antsy as the stores fill up with new backpacks, fun and colorful accessories, and the latest in locker items and school supplies. And even though I am not ready to begin the process of letting summer with my kids slip through my fingers, I grudgingly give in and get to work. The excitement of and preparation for a new school year can be stressful for parents and their children.

So, what can parents do to make the transition smooth for themselves and their families, especially for the child who is attending a traditional school for the first time or going to a new school? Here are some ideas to get everyone ready.

Schedule a visit.

Meeting new teachers and walking through the school building does a lot to ease the stress of change. If your child’s schedule requires changing classrooms and the use of a locker, take him to school and encourage him to physically walk through his class schedule and become familiar with his locker. Your child will gain confidence, and when you think of your child during the day, you can be calm knowing where your child is. (Keep a copy of his schedule.)

Get the paperwork done.

Mark this task off your to-do list early. Doing so allows you the time to address anything that may have been overlooked, like a copy of your child’s inoculations. Keep a folder at home for each of your children with all required school paperwork, class lists, phone numbers, class schedules and any other important documents. Make copies in case paperwork is misplaced. If you need something, you’ll know where it is. Last minute worries and misplaced paperwork add to stress. You’re working towards smooth, yes?

Take your child shopping.

Going shopping for school supplies is our annual first step of getting ready for school, part of our tradition for transitioning from summer back to school. In the early part of August, we wade through the aisles with shopping carts and our lists of required school supplies. Each of my four kids has a copy of their list and runs through the aisles, grabbing the items on their list and throwing the supplies into the carts. I check what is in the carts against my master list. I also adjust supplies, to account for the myriad of school projects that will pop up throughout the school year and the items that may not go the distance over the course of the school year (extra poster board, erasers, folders, plastic rulers, highlighters, dry erase makers).


If your insurance allows, consider scheduling checkups in by mid-summer. Seeing the dentist and doctor earlier, especially when inoculations are required, disassociates them with the start of the school. Middle and high school sports physicals will need to be completed before your child begins practices for their fall sports.

Connect or reconnect.

Consider having a simple get together or picnic with school friends and families you may not have seen over the summer. Reestablishing friendships and catching up does wonders for everyone. This is a great opportunity for new families to get acquainted as well. If you are the new family, ask to be introduced to a mentor family who has a child of the same age as yours. The mentor family can “hold your hand” as you and your child transition into the new school environment, answering questions and helping you become familiar with the system.

Move the clock up.

Summer is time to slow down and to replenish. Even if you work, your child, whether he’s been at camp or at home, has likely been sleeping in and staying up later. Gradually begin moving bedtimes and wake-up times back to your family’s school-year schedule. Help your child say good-bye to summertime activities and look forward to school activities. Adjusting your family’s schedule before school starts should help you get some added sleep too.

Go over expectations.

Sit down with your child and go over what you and your child’s school expect of him. Some schools require signed agreements from students that hold them responsible for their actions, outlining policies about cheating, turning in work on time, and treatment of other students. If such an agreement is required by your child’s school, make sure you discuss it with your child and that your child understands what he is signing. If you or your child feels anything needs clarification, get it. Keep a copy of the signed agreement.

Organize and mark everything.

When you are shopping for school supplies with your child, get yourself some new supplies too. I always get myself a new supply of sticky notes, permanent markers, highlighters, paint pens, and notebooks. I purchase storage bins if they are needed. Extra supplies go into the bins and are used by my kids as needed throughout the school year. My personal supplies go into a desk drawer so I can easily find what I need to label my kids’ clothing, backpacks and other items that travel back and forth to school. Permanent markers won’t work on every surface, so paint pens come in handy (and they come in white).

As you enjoy the final weeks of summer vacation, moving through the steps of preparing your child to return to school allows you and your child to become ready for what is ahead. 

Judy M Miller
About Judy M Miller

Judy M. Miller works with pre-adoptive and adoptive parents, equipping them with new techniques and information, and encouraging and empowering adoptive families through difficult times. She is the author of What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween.

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