How to make the first day of school easier on your kids (and you)

Aug 7, 2012 at 10:47 a.m. ET

The first day of school can be exciting but chaotic. With these helpful tips, you can get your kids off to school with ease and without any drama.

Fifth grade girl on first day of school

alarm clockGet into your routine early

Summer is full of relaxation, fun in the sun and family activities. Parents also typically let their kids stay up later (and sleep in later) during the summertime. A few weeks before school starts, get them back into their school-time routine by going to bed earlier, waking up earlier and eating right. Quality sleep and good nutrition is especially important during the school year so that your child can stay focused and healthy.

Ease any anxieties

If your child is starting kindergarten or preschool, beginning high school or heading to a new school this year, the first day can be an especially anxious time. Talk about anxieties or fears and find ways to help cope. Reassure your child that she is not the only one who is uneasy about starting school. Talk about your own challenges. Discuss a time that you were feeling particularly anxious about something, how you overcame those feelings and the positive results.

Celebrate the beginning of the school year

Many kids get down about the end of the summer. A week or two before school starts, throw a party to celebrate the beginning of the school year. Invite some of their school friends that they haven't seen much of over the summer. Get outside and enjoy the weather. Play water games and other sports, too.

Quick tip

If your child is starting a new school, see if you can take a tour and meet with the teacher before the school year starts. Familiarizing your child with his new school will help relieve any apprehensions.

School suppliesPrepare the night before

School mornings — especially the first day of school — can be hectic. Getting dressed is often a struggle, whether your child is 5 or 15. Lay out your kids' clothes the night before, including shoes and accessories. Plan your breakfast, set the table, pack backpacks and lunch bags, and do anything else you can to make the morning go more smoothly.

Get up a little early

Allow yourself 15 minutes to sit down and have a cup of coffee or surf the Web before your little ones get up for school. For the first day of school, get them up a littler earlier than normal to make sure that you have plenty of time. Make it a household rule that no TVs, computers or video games can be turned on until they are completely ready to leave the house. Electronics are often the things that slow kids down in the morning. Leave the house early and expect there to be lots of traffic — it's the first day of school!

More back-to-school tips

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Top 10 Ways to support your child's school