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How to help kids transition back to the classroom

Published: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 10:57 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 11:30 a.m. CDT

The dawn of a new school year is an exciting time. Kids may not want to say goodbye to days spent lounging by the pool, but such disappointment is often tempered by the prospect of returning to school with friends.

For parents, getting kids ready for a new school year is about more than updating their wardrobe or organizing carpools with fellow parents. Reacclimating kids to the routine of school after a relaxing summer is a significant undertaking, and the following are a handful of ways for parents to get a head start as the schoolyear draws closer.

• Establish a routine. Summer vacations typically lack the structure of the school year, and that lack of structure can help kids unwind and make the most of the freedom that summer vacation provides. But as summer starts to wind down, parents can begin to reintroduce some structure into their kids’ lives to make the transition back to school go more smoothly.

Plan morning activities so kids can readjust to waking up early each day. In addition, serve breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time you typically serve it during the school year so kids’ bodies can begin to readjust as well.

• Take kids along when shopping for school supplies. If you plan to buy your child a new computer or other supplies for the upcoming school year, take him or her along on your shopping trips. Kids who get to choose their supplies might be more excited about returning to school than those youngsters who are given what they need without offering their input.

• Monitor or assign summer reading. Many students are given summer reading lists to keep their minds sharp over the summer and prepare them for upcoming coursework. Parents should monitor kids’ progress on such reading lists and even discuss the books with their kids when possible. Read the books along with them if you think it will help engage them. If kids were not assigned summer reading lists at the end of the school year, assign your own books, rewarding kids when they finish a new book.

Kids who read throughout the summer may be more likely to start the school year off on the right foot than those who don’t crack a book all summer.

• Encourage kids to sign up for extracurricular activities. Many school-aged athletes get a head start on the new school year by trying out for sports teams. Such tryouts often commence a week or two before a school year is scheduled to begin, and this can help kids ease their way back into the school year. But even nonathletes can begin pursuing extracurricular activities before the first school bell of the year rings.

Theater programs may begin auditions or encourage interested youngsters to attend orientation meetings before the dawn of the school year, and such sessions can be a great and pressure-free way for kids to ready themselves for a new school year.

The arrival of a new school year can be both exciting and daunting. But parents can help their youngsters readjust to school in various ways after a relaxing summer.

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