The 3 Tips That Will Make Back to School Much Smoother This Year

Tips to help you and your kids hit the ground running in the new school year

happy father and son laughing
Including laughter and fun at back-to-school time will reduce anxiety and stress in kids and parents. PeopleImages.com/Getty Images

Once a new school year starts, parents and kids are often faced with a mountain of demands and challenges. Getting to school on time, forms (and more forms), meetings, extracurricular activities, getting homework done, and a host of other school-related things--all while parents still have to juggle work and home--can be stressful for the whole family. But the following three strategies will make a significant difference in how well things go in the new school year, and will make both you and your child feel less anxious and stressed and much more happy.

1. Make things fun.
As hectic as things may get, try to do something every day to include a little fun and laughter into your day. Set a timer and make a game of racing to get dressed in the morning, or straightening up at the end of the day. (The first person to win the most days in a week can have a prize, like getting to pick a family movie to watch on the weekend.) See who can come up with the silliest songs while you're picking out outfits for the next school day. Take a look at all the ways you can organize your home and routines to get ready for back to school and think of a way to incorporate fun and games into them.

When you incorporate games and a cheerful attitude in a high-pressure situation--which is exactly what back-to-school time is--you can help your child feel better about all the things he has to do as he transitions to a new school year. And by adding laughter, you change the tenor of your interactions and strengthen the bond between you and your child.

2. Let go of the idea of being perfect and expect mistakes.
One of the sure-fire ways of getting more anxious and stressed at back-to-school time is to try to get everything done, perfectly and on time. While that may be a great goal--and you may achieve it--making perfection a "must-do" instead of a "will-try-to-do" priority will only serve to make things more stressful for both you and your child.

For the first few weeks or a month, expect that there may be mistakes. You may not get to school on time every single day; your child may forget to give you an important notice or announcement from the teacher; or she may forget to do all of her homework once or twice. Once you recognize and acknowledge that things may not always go smoothly or perfectly, you can then try to do the best you can, and ask your child to do the same.

3. Remind yourself to be extra patient and understanding.
Consider this scenario: You've just started a new job and are expected to hit the ground running, after you've been on a long vacation. That's pretty similar to what kids face every new school year when they come back from summer break.

Parents should try to remember that kids are starting a new year, and are learning to adjust to a new teacher and classmates. The expectations that he has to meet--a hectic morning rush, having to be in school and pay attention in class and socialize with classmates and friends--will all add up to mental, emotional and physical exhaustion for a young child.

Going back to school can be hard on everyone, but it’s important to remember the next time that you're frustrated that your child forgot to bring a book to school or forgot to bring homework home that kids need time to adjust and settle into a new year. A little extra patience and understanding will not only help reduce your child's stress and anxiety, but will ease yours, too. And that's a good tip to keep in mind for the entire upcoming school year and beyond.

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