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Back to school can be less stressful by following just a few guidelines:

Have a Calendar

Even if you use an electronic calendar system, or Blackberry/iPhone calendar, it usually is a good idea to have a paper calendar where everyone can see what is happening and when. Keep track of early-release days, sports and after school activities, medical and dental appointments, and other important events. You can make your own calendars online at http://www.calendarlabs.com/pdf-calendar.php

Health Care and Emergency Information

Have copies of your children’s up-to-date health care and emergency information readily available for school, extra-curricular activities, and sports teams.

Order Supplies Online

Shopping online has never been easier and Staples offers many online specials you won’t find in their stores. Shipping is convenient, fast, and may even be free with a minimum order. http://www.staples.com

Bedtime Routines

Try to re-establish your bedtime and mealtime routines at least one full week before school starts. This includes pre-bedtime reading and household chores if these were suspended during the summer.

No TV Before School Rule

Getting the kids out of the house in the morning can be challenging enough without having to fight with the television. The best way to avoid this is to have a NO TV BEFORE SCHOOL rule – no exceptions! I guarantee this will reduce your AM stress levels and get the kids out the door with less hassles.

A Designated Place to Do Homework

Designate and clear a place to do homework. Have homework supplies in an organized container or drawer. Younger children need a quiet area set aside in the family room or kitchen that facilitates adult monitoring, supervision, and encouragement.

Zones

If you’ve read my newsletter for awhile you know I’m a big proponent of ZONES. Zones help you stay organized when everyone understands how they are used. Select a spot to keep backpacks and lunch boxes. Designate a spot for your children to place their school belongings as well as a place to put important notices and information sent home for you to see. Explain that emptying their backpack each evening is part of their responsibility, even for young children.

School Lunches

Make lunches the night before school. Older children should help or make their own. Give them the option to buy lunch in school if they prefer and finances permit.

Getting Up in the Morning

Have school-age children set their own alarm clocks to get up in the morning. Children who are expected to get up on their own and get to the bus stop or to school on time tend to be more responsible in general.

Extra Time

Leave plenty of extra time. Make sure your child has plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast, and get to school. For very young children taking the bus, pin to their shirt or backpack an index card with pertinent information, including their teacher’s name and bus number, as well as your daytime contact information.

After School

Review with your child what to do if he or she gets home after school and you are not there. Be very specific, particularly with young children. Put a note card in their backpack with the name(s) and number(s) of a neighbor who is home during the day as well as a number where you can be reached. If you have not already done so, have your child meet neighbor contacts to reaffirm the backup support personally.