Ready For A New School Year?

Kids across the country are about to start the 2012-2013 school year. Emotions will range from pure excitement to apprehension as children either begin or continue their journey into the world of classrooms, teachers and homework. If your family hasn't begun the transition from summer vacation to school day routine it's not too late to start!

Creating a daily routine, before school starts, can help parents and kids work through any adjustments that need to be made before deadlines have to be met.

Begin by adjusting sleep times. Move bedtime back to an earlier time and set an alarm for waking up. Children and adults need a good night's rest to be able to think and perform at their best. Most kids between 5 and 12 get about 9.5 hours a night, but experts agree that most should be getting 10 or 11 hours each night. Teens need about 9.5 hours of sleep a night. Of course, sleep is an individual thing and some kids need more or less than others. You know your child best and can adjust accordingly.

During the summer months mealtimes can fluctuate a lot. Begin having meals together at times that will work with the school year schedule. Cut back on snacking throughout the day and experiment with quick and healthy meals. If your child will be taking their lunch to school, now is a good time to start planning what those lunches will be.

Discuss after-school activities and create a schedule of who will need to be where at a specific time. A calendar or chalkboard in the kitchen, with everyone's schedule, is great for keeping track of each day's events.

Another area where a summer routine may change during the school year is children's chores and responsibilities. Adjustments may need to be made depending on after school activities and homework. By starting the new routine now you can get your child's input on what they think they can handle - see how it goes - and make any changes you think will help make the transition a little easier.

Now is also a good time to solidify your after-school care. Most after-school arrangements will be made months ahead of time but it's a good idea to confirm dates, times, transportation and any changes with everyone involved. Talk with your child about where he or she will be going after school. Make sure they have an emergency contact name and number with them if something unexpected happens. If your child will be home alone for a period of time after school, make sure they know the rules for locking doors and windows, answering the door and telephone and checking in when they arrive home.

A couple of other things that may need adjusting are computer, television, games and phone time. It's easy to get into the habit of watching a lot of TV in the summer, playing video games all day, surfing the net and social media sites or texting and talking on the phone more than usual.  All these activities can keep kids up past their bedtime or interfere with getting their homework finished in a timely manner. Setting time limits now will help make the transition to school nights a little smoother.

Some kids really look forward to a new school year. They've missed their friends and they like school. Band members are back together making music, kids in sports are looking forward to the games and all the other extra curricular activities that make school a unique environment. But some kids are nervous about meeting new people, having a new routine, or making mistakes. Testing has become such a focal point of the school year that many kids are afraid they won't do well. Reassure your child that you will be there to help if they need it. Let them know that you want them to tell you if there's anything going on that upsets them while they are at school. Help your child plan ahead. If your school has orientation days or meet the teacher days take your child and introduce them to their teacher or teachers. Let them meet some of the other kids who will be in the same grade so they will see a familiar face when school begins. Be relaxed and positive about the school experience and share some stories of when you went to school.  Let them know that they will soon be navigating the halls and classes easily.

Kids are in school most of the year and families are making adjustments to make sure everyone's day runs smoothly. It can be tough sometimes but by planning ahead, making changes early and easing back into a routine, when the first day of school bell rings everyone is prepared and ready to go.


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