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By Danielle Barfoot, mom to a boisterous teen and freelancer who writes about parenting and education.

Back to school is always a big transition, not only for children but also for parents. While children are filled with excitement and perhaps some first-day jitters, parents are plotting the school run and scheduling their soon to be hectic days. With a little planning, you can make going back to school simple and stress-free.

  1. Put a positive spin on going back to school: If your child is anxious about starting a new grade or going to a new school, reassure him that other children feel the same way. Talk about the fun things your child will learn, the old friends he’ll see and the new friends he’ll make. Try to highlight that school offers new and exciting experiences, no matter which grade he is going to.
  2. Complete paperwork: Take advantage of the slower pace as school starts to review school material and information – check any important dates and complete all paperwork a few days before it’s due to avoid last minute panic. Also remember to update any details that may have changed, including medical end emergency details.
  3. Re-establish your school sleep routine: The first day of school is no time for a drastic adjustment of sleep schedules, so begin your usual school sleep routine about a week before school starts to help your child practice getting back into the rhythm of things. Also start waking him at the same time each day.
  4. Take inventory: Back to school means stacks of books and stationery and crisp new uniforms, but remember that an informed shopper is a savvy shopper, so prepare before you go. Take an afternoon and assess your child’s uniform and stationery needs. Then shop for school supplies together – it will help get your child excited about starting a new grade.
  5. Create a calendar: Control the chaos with a calendar – a centralised point for all dates, schedules and plans. A paper calendar with large squares to enter the information works well. Include after school activities, sports and other important dates and events. Colour-coding entries by family member will also help keep busy lives straight.
  6. Plan ahead for healthy meals: Get creative with easy, healthy ideas for school lunches. If you plan and gather what you need in the days before school starts, those first few mornings will be less stressful, and your child’s lunchbox will be more nutritious. (Remember to leave a note in your child’s lunchbox on the first day of school.)
  7. Have a back-up/emergency plan: Safety first! Children, especially little ones, must know their full name and your telephone number. Also make sure that your child knows the routine for after school, and have a back-up plan in case you are late. Now is also an appropriate time to remind your child about traffic and physical safety, and what to do if he is bullied.

A little preparation before the big day can go a long way in easing your child’s transition back to school.

Click here to find a list of preschools in Gauteng and here in KwaZulu-Natal

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids

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