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Good to Go: Get in the back to school swing of things

Monday - 9/1/2014, 2:41am  ET

SchoolBus.jpg
It's back to school for students. An expert offers tips for students and parents to half a stress-free start to the school year. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON -- With school events and meetings, hectic sports schedules and afterschool activities coming back into our schedules, kids and parents alike need to prepare for the transition back to school.

"During the summer, children become used to a different routine. Meal and sleep schedules are often different due to long summer days, freedom from school schedules and summer travels," says parenting coach Kerrie LaRosa.

In order to avoid a groggy student on the first day, LaRosa suggests returning to a "more school-like schedule" by adjusting bedtime and wake-up times to match those of school. And not just little ones: Older students will benefit from the summertime wean, too.

Some children, especially those attending school for the first time or starting at a new school, may be anxious about the first day. LaRosa has some tips to help calm their nerves:

  • Encourage your child to participate in the preparation for school. It helps to shop for supplies, clothes and other academic necessities together.

  • Let them help with the selection and packing of their lunches and backpacks, as well as picking out their clothes for the first day.

  • If your child is attending a new school, visit the school before the first day, so they can see their new surroundings. Go over information about the teachers, school schedules and school rules with your child.

  • Try to arrange a play date or get-together with other students at the school, so that your child sees a familiar face in the first week.

  • If your child will be attending school for the first time, reading books about Kindergarten and the first day of school can help. There are tons to choose from, many of which are on display in stores this time of year.

  • Provide your child with extra attention the first day, and first few weeks, of school. Talk to your child about his/her teachers, friends, classes, but respect their need to take a break from talking about school.

LaRosa says parents are eager to learn every detail about their kids' day, but children can be intimidated by too many questions.

"Follow their lead and offer them support transitioning home by playing with them or sitting with them while they have a snack or do their homework. And, when they are ready, they will offer more information about school. You just need to be there are ready to listen," she says.

She adds to expect some "behavioral regression," including a regression in potty training for youngsters in the first couple of weeks at school. However, she says, "with consistency and some extra hugs, your child should adjust to the new environment."

Parents also need to pace themselves regarding back-to-school adjustments. Try to attend the events and meetings you can, but don't stress and try to move mountains if you can't make every classroom coffee or event, LaRosa says. There will be opportunities to get involved and volunteer throughout the school year.

Editor's Note: WTOP's Katie Howard is a mom on the go. With two children under age 7, she's always looking for ways to provide her family fast and healthy snacks, meals and activities. Katie shares her go-to food and family fitness tips on her blog "Good to Go."

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