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7 Ways to Survive the Start of the School Year

It happens every year. Just when you are settled in to the lazy days of summer, you are startled to find Back to School catalogs in your mailbox and bikinis going on sale in favor of turtlenecks. Your local store has devoted an entire aisle to pencils, notebooks, and lunch bags. Soon there will be no more long days at the beach, late nights watching movies with popcorn, or mornings free of alarm clock jitters. It's enough to make you dread September, but it doesn't need to be that way. With a slight change in attitude and a plan in place, September can be one of the best months of the year.

1. Practice
Don't wait until Labor Day to get ready for the changeover to the school year. Begin pulling back bedtime during the last two weeks of August-around 8:30 to 9:00 PM for elementary school kids.

2. Lower Your Expectations
Major transitions equal disruption. Routines change and priorities shift. Allow yourself extra leeway when it comes to chores and tasks. Avoid scheduling appointments during the month surrounding the start of the school year.

3. Carve Out Extra Time
Clear the decks of added responsibilities so that you can get through the transition with less stress. Don't sign up for your usual extra-curricular activities. Keep your family commitments to a minimum.

4. Motivate Your Kids
Preparing for school isn't a job only for parents. The students themselves have things they must do to get ready. Make all the back to school activities, like shopping for school clothes, a fun family event. Devote the first week of school to getting settled and having fun as a family. Plan pizza nights and ice cream socials. Schedule extra game nights and buy a new puzzle.

5. Ask for Help
Reduce your stress during this transition. Enlist help to complete all the back to school tasks. Hire a babysitter to watch your younger children while you take your older children to buy school clothes. Ask grandparents to supervise school supplies purchases.

6. Set the Tone
Set a positive tone for the new school year. If you approach September with the kind of dread usually associated with prison terms, you can be sure your kids aren't going to be too happy about going to school. On the other hand, if you show interest and excitement in what lies ahead, then your child will be eager to get started.

7. Focus
The beginning of a new school year is an important time for a child. The whole family should be interested and involved in the process. Express interest about the upcoming year, classes, and school friends. Share your school memories. Celebrate this new beginning!

The beginning of a new school year can be an exciting time for a family. It's a fresh start with new teachers and classmates, and perhaps even a new school. Planning for the best possible beginning to the year shows your child how much you care. The more effort you put into it, the more you and your child will reap the rewards.

Katie Basson is a parent, teacher, and creator of The BITs Kit Better Behavior Kit for Kids?. Katie teaches seminars on behavior modification techniques, and assists parents through challenging behavioral and educational issues. She serves on the Board of Directors of the YWCA and is an educational advisor to Zoesis, Inc., a children's software company. Katie's expert advice has been sought for articles in The Boston Globe and Parents Magazine. Sign up for her biweekly Parenting Solutions newsletter at www.bitskit.com.

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