Summer is coming to an end. Soon we’ll watch the Bud Billiken Parade glide down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, and students will realize their days seem shorter as they become overwhelmed by the prospect of homework, school projects, and going to bed before the late show.

For parents, back-to-school time can be both exciting and chaotic. Almost ashamed, parents realize how much more peaceful the house seems when children are out learning or coming in exhausted from analyzing reading passages and calculating long division problems.

However, school days can also be a drain, both financially and mentally, especially when there are supplies to be purchased and children to be motivated. And in this chaos, it is easy to lose sight of some of the most important things to remember when a child starts the first day in a new classroom. Below are just a few critical assignments that all parents should complete in order to prepare their children for a productive school year:

Send your child to school the first day

Missing the first day of school can pose a real threat to your child. Contrary to popular opinion, learning does take place on the first day of class. On the first day of school, students learn classroom rules, they are given the chance to formally meet and make friends with their fellow classmates, and they are sent home with important and time-sensitive documents, which in most cases, need your signature. In conjunction with these things, teachers also use the first days of school as a time to assess students’ prior knowledge, testing them in various subject areas to see what they know and what they need to learn. Therefore, sending your child to school several days after the start, could make the transition into their new classroom more difficult.

Be prepared

First, make sure you get the supplies your child needs. Many schools provide parents with a supply list before the first day. If not, know that you can never go wrong with loose-leaf paper, a couple of folders, pencils, and pens for grade school students, and if you do, you can always use these things in your home. Then wait for the first day when the teacher hands out a supply list before you buy any ancillary items like scissors, glue, etc.

When your child does acquire all of their necessary materials, the most important thing is to make sure they don’t take them all to school on the first day. Many students make the mistake of bringing every pen and pencil they own to school when they only need about two pens and pencils a day. The rest they end up losing or loaning out. Be smart and ration out school supplies as the year progresses. You will see that school items last longer this way.

Learn about the school
and what you can do as a parent

Show up on the first day of school and be prepared to gain information within the first week your child starts back. On the first day of school, formally meet the teacher. Introduce yourself. Shake his/her hand. After school, ask them about your child’s first day. It is always nice to meet the teacher on a positive occasion, instead of when you’re called in for a conference. Schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher so that you can identify the criteria which the school requires for academic promotion. At this time, you may also want to discuss concerns you have about your child’s learning difficulties or behavior. Get to know the school staff. These are people your child will see on a day-to-day basis, so you should also be familiar with them as well. When teachers and administrators see how forthcoming you are concerning your child’s educational success, they will come to care even more about helping your child reach their highest potential.

Get your child used to a set bedtime

If you haven’t already, create an earlier bedtime for your child two weeks prior to their first day back to school. During the summer, bedtime tends to get pushed back. However, we know all too well the difficulties in transitioning from a late curfew to an early one. Therefore, get your child in the habit of going to bed and waking up early before school even begins. Because you also want to let children enjoy the last days of summer, you might just require them to put on their pajamas and stay in bed at the designated time. However, you should get them adapted to rising early in order to get dressed and eat breakfast as they would on a school day. Therefore, on the first day of class, getting them ready won’t be such a chore.

Just as before, you will discover that this school year will bring unanticipated circumstances and unpredicted dilemmas. Nevertheless, when you are a step ahead of the game, when you are prepared for the expected, the unexpected will seem a lot less challenging.

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