"What you want to do is help you child imagine the earlier bedtime necessary, the early morning wake-up, and have her visualizing spending the day in school," parenting expert Bob Lancer said in an e-mail.
Stock up on what they need – plus some extras
There's nothing like new notebooks, crayons and clothes to help make the mental transition to back-to-school time. As you shop, let them make some of their own choices – within reason.
Getting them a small school-related surprise like fun eraser-toppers for the first day of school can also help start them off on the right foot, Susan Morley, parenting expert and founder of Parent Coach Atlanta, said.
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Adjust your child's bedtime
Bedtimes tend to be a lot more relaxed during the summer, and getting up early can be a definite shock to a child's system. A child who hasn't gotten enough sleep is more likely to be cranky – aren't we all? – and may be sleepy in their first class or in the afternoon.
Adjust their sleep schedule by moving their bedtime closer to their school bedtime the week before school begins. Two nights before they'll be heading back to school, have them go to bed at their school bedtime, Lancer said.
Start getting back into the morning routine
If your kids are used to lazing around in the morning and having a flexible time to wake up, school mornings can be a big adjustment. Changing the schedule little by little a week or so in advance can help ease the transition,
"I always try the graduated approach to waking up early," she explained. By the end of the last week, Morley advised getting kids dressed in the morning as well.
Set up a comfortable place to study
Your child should have a clean, well lit, comfortable space for homework. Make sure they have the supplies they need at hand so they don't waste time searching for a ruler, highlighter or other item.
"Get them in the habit of going to this place regularly at a time that works for you, and then back off," Morley suggested.
Make your child's schedule work as well as possible
Each year brings its own scheduling challenges. Find out when your child has lunchtime, since they may need an extra snack to tide them over if they eat very early or late.
And if you find yourself waiting in one child's pick-up line while another sits in the car with you, be prepared with a portable homework kit. Keep a laptop desk and some basic supplies in a small bag that stays in the car. Your child will be able to get a jumpstart on his or her homework while they wait.
More back-to-school tips: