While we still have three and a half weeks of summer vacation, it’s not too soon to plan for back to school. But planning now does not mean that summer fun should stop.

By all means, continue to celebrate the summer while beginning to prepare in small ways for the big transition back to school on Aug. 28, the first day that many schools begin.

Here are some things to consider:

Review all the summer schoolwork requirements, even for your high-schoolers. Many teens are not skilled at being responsible for their schoolwork while taking an eight-week break from school. Determine where they are in completing their summer homework, and develop a schedule with them to help them complete all their work before day one.

Begin to get into the school sleep schedule by waking your children up in the morning within an hour of a typical school wake-up time. Start curbing the late nights during the week, and focus on helping your children get the eight to 10 hours they need to perform optimally and avoid having them return to school exhausted from all the late summer nights.

Insist that your child or teen have a healthy balance of extracurricular activities, including sports, arts and school-based activities. Take time now to plan what these activities will be during the coming fall season. A healthy guideline is one activity per season during the school year, in at least one of these three areas for students ages 8 through high school.

Make sure all your child’s sports sign-ups are completed for school and town fall sports. The sign-up deadline is near! Health physical forms are needed for all sports, and they can be obtained from the local physician. If a physical is needed and the primary care physician has no immediate openings before school, urgent care can perform physical exams.

When considering back-to-school supplies, make a budget that includes necessary school items and clothing. The average family spends $300 to $600 per child on back to school. This does not include expenses for technology, such as iPads and laptops.

Make sure you have the list of school supplies, and get down to the store and get stocked up before too long. Supplies dwindle fast, and kids today are very particular about their school supplies.

Get support services lined up. Many families need tutors, baby-sitters, carpools, etc., and having these arranged in advance makes the transition smoother for everyone. In other words, do plan for as much as possible in advance, beginning now.

Reframe a child or teen’s anxiety as excitement, and remind them that the anticipation and butterflies that come with starting a new school year are normal and natural.

Back to school is a huge change for parents, as well as children. Pace yourself by easing into it and slowly beginning to prepare during the next three weeks. Take a deep breath! Before you realize it, everyone will be back in their routines as if they never left them. 

Dr. Kate Roberts is a licensed child and school psychologist and family therapist on the North Shore. Ask a question or make a comment at kate@drkateroberts.com.

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