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Simple Steps to Make the First Day of School Go More Smoothly

The alarm rings and the chaos begins. You drag one kid out of bed, while your other one frets over which outfit to wear. It’s a mad dash as you help your kids get ready to go, throw lunches together, and serve a quick breakfast. It’s the FIRST DAY of SCHOOL!

Trying to get everyone out the door on time seems like an impossible task. It is only when you are halfway to school that you remember that you didn’t take any back-to-school pictures. Getting back in to the school routine after a long summer break can be a challenging time for both parents and kids. The good news is that there are steps you can take to make this transition back to school easier for the whole family.

Try these simple steps to make the first day of school go more smoothly for everyone.

Start your back-to-school routine about a week before school starts.

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If you have been letting your kids stay up late during summer vacation, get into a routine of setting the alarm for school wake-up time. Doing this for about a week before school starts will give their bodies time to adjust to a new routine and fall into a rhythm of going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. A well-rested child makes for a happier, more cooperative child.

During this week, It’s also helpful to get into the routine of getting dressed right away in the mornings and having meals and snacks at about the same time they would before and during school, so their bodies can adjust to that as well. In the summers my kids sleep in, and then their meal schedule is slightly off the rest of the day. We try to adjust it before school begins so they will back on track from day one.

alarm clock for the first day of school

Take back to school photos the day before.

Have your kids pick out their back-to-school outfits the day before, not the morning of. Have them try everything on and do a quick photo shoot (you can make it silly and fun by adding props). Then you won’t have to worry about trying to snap photos as you are trying to get out the door on time.

Then have them lay out their clothes (including socks, undies, and shoes) by their bed so it is easy to get up and get dressed right away.

two boys with backpacks

Pre-pack backpacks and lunches the night before.

Nothing is worse than scurrying around the house frantically trying to find things as the minutes tick by. And odds are likely if you are trying to throw together lunches at the last minute, you will suddenly forget which kid doesn’t like apples and which one only wants peanut butter on his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Have their backpacks packed with any needed school supplies and water bottles ready to be filled on the counters. The more you can do to get ready the night before, the calmer your morning will be.

Do a dry run before the first day of school.

If your kids are going to the same school or have the same bus route, this isn’t as vital, but if a new school or new bus stop is part of the picture, figure out the logistics ahead of time. Walk to the stop or drive the new route to see how long it will take. You don’t want to be late on the first day!

If your kids are at a new school, ask if you can bring them in the week before to walk around and get familiar with the layout. This will help ease some of the anxiety they might be experiencing over starting at a new school.

school bus first day of school

Attend back-to-school events.

Some schools will offer an orientation session (often for Kindergartners, students entering middle school, or students entering high school.) Try to attend if you can, especially if you are new to the school. Other schools offer a time before school starts where all students can come and meet their new teachers and check out their new classrooms.

Even if your kids have attended this school before, they might still be feeling nervous about starting a new grade. Meeting their teachers and seeing their classrooms the day before can help ease some of these nerves.

Have a conversation the night before about what the morning will be like.

I think this is helpful if you have kids in the lower elementary grades, especially a Kindergartner. They like to know what to expect. If they have been staying at home all summer, then they are probably use to having slower mornings where they didn’t have to quickly transition from one thing to the next.

This conversation can also serve as a time to ease any last minute jitters they might be having. It is great to build in a little bit of extra time with mom or dad the night before school starts.

In the morning, you can give them a checklist they can look at as a visual reminder, so they know exactly what they need to do to be ready to leave the house. If they know how to tell time, you can also include a goal time for each thing on the checklist. Example: Be dressed by 7:15. Eat your breakfast by 7:30. Brush your teeth by 7:45. (This can be helpful throughout the school year, not just the first morning.)

Make sure you are taking care of yourself, too. 

With so many responsibilities, I know this can be a challenge, but you will help set the tone for the day. Back-to-school time can lead to a mixture of emotions, and can be a stressful time for both you and your kids. Do yourself a favor and try to get a plenty of sleep the night before. You will want to be able to tackle the morning with a positive attitude and plenty of energy. (And perhaps a strong cup of coffee.)

I hope these simple strategies will help make the first day of school go smoothly. Here’s wishing you and your kiddos a fantastic school year!


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