The summer is winding down. Beaches are thinning out, parks are closing earlier, and stores are filling up with backpacks, binders, and writing materials. Even shops and restaurants are replacing their light, summer items with pumpkin spice and apple pie goodies.  

Autumn is creeping in from the edges everywhere you look, and you know what that means. It’s time to head back to school.

We know that this time of year can get a bit hectic for families. In response, we’ve prepared a list of the top 10 things that parents can do to help students adjust to the new year.

1. Sketch Out a Morning Routine

For parents, the hardest change will probably be getting the kids up in the morning and out the door before the bus arrives. For older kids, getting them an alarm clock and asking them to devise their own morning routine is a great way to encourage them to take ownership and responsibility.

2. Don’t Skip Breakfast

Growing kids need to be mentally alert and engaged with complex content all day. The key to this is a healthy breakfast.

To combat mid-morning crashes from sugary cereals, make sure students get a well-rounded meal to start the day. This should include protein, grains, and a healthy dose of vitamins. Wheat toast with scrambled eggs and a banana could do the trick. 

3. Pick Outfits the Night Before

Nothing will cause a greater panic in the morning than a kid who can’t find a favorite shoe. To avoid this chaos, make sure your kids pick out their outfits before they go to bed and place them (socks and all) somewhere they will never miss them. Laying their outfit out on a chair or hanging from a closet door are great options. 

4. Pack Lunches After Picking Outfits

Taking the outfit game to the next level… you can and should do the same thing with lunch for the next day. Save yourself (and the kids) a morning meltdown and get it out of the way in advance. Plus, if you know that tomorrow’s outfit is going to be a bit more—shall we say—sensitive to stains, then you can take that into account when planning out lunch.

5. Start having lunch during summer break

A neat trick to get kids into the school habit again is to set their lunches for the same time every day during the summer. This will help them prepare for the first week of school and also improve their memory-retention

6. Limit TV Time During the Summer

To help build good homework habits, you could try limiting TV or video game time during the summer. Instead, try this: tell your child to spend that time learning just one new thing a day. Then, ask them to give a quick, informal report back to you over dinner about what they learned.

7. Family Games Build Big Brains

Family time is important for many reasons, but did you know that playing word or math games with your kids can drastically improve their information absorption and memory recall? Games like Scrabble, Sudoku, and others are great for helping keep kids sharp year-round. Not to mention: they’re also fun.

8. Set Bedtimes & Wake-Up Times Before School Starts

Let’s be honest, bedtimes are really hard to enforce during the summer. But if you want a peaceful, happy morning on that first day of school… it’s better to get kids into the habit of bedtime before school starts.’

Despite the inevitable complaining, kids will appreciate it if they can start waking up a few minutes earlier each day. They can gradually transition into the early start time, rather than a jarring transition back to waking up at 6am every morning.

9. Study Ahead

Another tip that might help is to get your kids advance copies of the books or materials they will be studying this semester. While no kid wants to do homework in the summer, giving them one chapter to read and report to you about each week couldn’t hurt.

At the very least, it will prepare kids for the semester. It will also help you identify any areas in which they might need special attention or tutoring.

10. Don’t Wait Till the Last Minute

Look. As a parent, you already know stores are full of everything you need right now. At the end of the month, the pickin’s will get mighty slim. Don’t leave it for the last minute.

Try to get your back-to-school shopping done early. You can even take time to search online for all the back-to-school promos you can find, and try to find the best prices around.