Back To School Tips

By: Jon Henshaw, M.A.

As summer comes to an end, many parents are gearing up to send their children back to school. Going back to school introduces many new dynamics into home life. The family has to adapt to a new time schedule, new costs (school supplies, clothing, and food), and new emotional ups-and-downs experienced by their children at school.

It's always helpful for parents to be one step ahead when possible. To avoid being caught unprepared on the first day of school, and to help children throughout the school year, I encourage parents to consider the back to school tips below.

Realistic Expectations

Many children have fears about going to school for the first time, entering a new school, or moving into a new grade. It's important for parents to talk to their children about these new changes. Children often have unrealistic fears and expectations that can be alleviated by simply talking about them with a parent.

Parents shouldn't wait until after their child shows emotional signs of worry and fear about school. Instead, they should bring it up beforehand if possible. An example might be asking their child how they feel about going to school this year, and if they have any worries about it. They can also ask them what they think it will be like, and what they are and aren't looking forward to.

Keep in mind that not all children will have fears towards school, and that not all children will want to talk to their parents about it (especially as they get older). It's okay if they don't want to talk about it, but parents should make sure their children know they're available when and if they do.

Student Paperwork

In the hurry to switch to a new school schedule after a long summer, parents often forget to register their children for school. Each school system has their own way of managing students, so it's important for parents to contact their school to make sure their child is registered and ready to attend their school. This is especially true for children who are attending a new school.

Other items that parents need to make sure their children have are health forms and emergency contacts. Don't assume that the school will ask for the information when they need it. Parents should go ahead and contact their child's school to see what information they require. It's also a good idea for parents to give their children an emergency contact sheet that they can keep with them at all times.

School Costs

A new school year brings new costs. Growing children need new clothes, new classes often require new school supplies, and what a child will eat needs to be figured out.

Before buying new clothes, parents need to make sure the clothes their buying for their children are allowed at their school. Otherwise, parents may not be able to return the clothes they bought, and they'll end up having to buy new ones.

New classes will often require new school supplies. For example, an art class usually requires that students bring their own supplies, and a math class may require a special calculator or geometry tools. Parents should set aside money to buy supplies for their new classes.

Parents need to also consider what their children will be eating. They should find out what the menu looks like for the school year, and also how much the food will cost. If the school menu doesn't serve the type of food that a parents wants their child to be eating, they should be prepared to buy and make their lunch on a daily basis.

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