Getting Ready For School: 11 Things To Do Before The First Day

11 Things To Do Before School Starts Back So You Can Minimize Morning-Of Drama

July 6, 2020 Updated September 29, 2020

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It’s almost time for the start of a new school year! This is an exciting milestone, but that doesn’t change the fact it can also be nerve-racking. Questions may flood your mind about getting ready for school, like what to do before school starts and what to wear on the first day. And, let’s be real, the transition from languid summer days to a back-to-school schedule is enough to make anyone feel a little anxious. That anxiety is even higher for those going back after quarantine.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to get the start of the school year off on the right foot. If you’re ready to do your homework, learn what you can do ahead of time to ace that first day back (not to mention the rest of the year).

Create A Study Space

As soon as school officially starts back up, everything begins to move at warp speed. You’ll wish there were more hours in the day — especially if you didn’t set up a study area for your star student before the school year began. Kids need a dedicated space (ideally somewhere quiet) where they can sit to get their homework done.

Finish Summer Assignments

As the summer comes to a close, it can be really tempting to spend your dwindling hours soaking up the sun and fun. But you need to squeeze in enough time to make sure your child knocks out any pre-assigned summer work. After all, it’s going to be even less fun when they have to play catch-up during their first few weeks.

Read Any Back-To-School Hand-Outs

C’mon, Mama — you know how frustrating it is to find a note from the teacher crumpled up at the bottom of your kid’s backpack. Set a solid example for them going into the school year by making sure you read any handbooks, informational letters, and welcome packets sent to you by your child’s teacher or school. They’ll likely contain important information for getting your school year properly started.

This also goes without saying for any back to school documentation you need to fill our regarding immunization, or transportation planning, any special needs information you need to convey to new teachers, or new tech assignments and handouts from the school to your child. Getting ahead of this before the first day of school will help make the transition easier once the school year gets going.

Go Back-To-School Shopping

Suggesting back-to-school shopping might sound like stating the obvious, but it’s a crucial step. For starters, your child will probably want to pick out some new school clothes (or, if they wear a uniform, any accessories they’re allowed to wear). But also, you’ll need to knock out the classroom supply list given to you by your child’s teacher.

Sure, it can be a little annoying filling your cart with things like multiple glue sticks and four boxes of Kleenex. However, considering how much teachers pay for supplies out of their own pocket, you’re undoubtedly getting off easy.

Attend An Open House

If your child’s school offers an open house or school tour, go! Even if your child attended the same school the year before, these events give you a chance to chat with their teachers beforehand. They give your student an opportunity to adapt to their new classroom. It might even get them pumped up about the start of school when they run into friends and/or future classmates.

Go Over Rules

It’s always better to set some ground rules before the school year gets into full swing. This should include reviewing information in the school handbook as well as establishing your own guidelines. If you don’t spell out what’s allowed and what isn’t, your kids could turn your lack of clarity into a loophole.

Set A Morning Routine

Mornings are the worst, Mama. We get it. The week before school starts, consider starting to establish a routine. Start waking the kiddos up early (and, of course, sending them to bed early). Once they’re up, get them into the teeth brushing, breakfast eating and getting ready routine. You could even consider making a couple semi-early appointments that week so that you actually have somewhere to be at a certain time and can really start establishing a timeline for your mornings during the upcoming school year. You might think it’ll be the same as last year, but things have changed over the summer. Aside from a possible edition of masks, your little dude might have gotten braces, or your girl might have gotten her first period. Those things could potentially slow a kid down in the mornings. If you start the week before, you’ll have time to see their stumbling blocks and be better prepared for them when the school year kicks into high gear.

Establish Your Nighttime Routine

Oh, who doesn’t love those impossibly long summer days that stretch into summer nights? Bedtimes are rarely enforced during this glorious break. And while that makes summer one of the most fun seasons for kids, it also makes getting back into a schedule feel torturous. So, decide what your nights are going to look like before the start of the new school year — and slowly start easing into them. Inch up bedtimes a little bit each night. Figure out which steps you can do the night before to save time. Which brings us to our next point…

Pack Backpacks And Lunch Boxes

It’s, like, a law of the universe that back-to-school mornings include at least one mad dash back into the house for a forgotten textbook or missing sustenance. You’ve got a better chance of breaking that cycle before it starts if you pack backpacks and lunch boxes the night before. Then it’s just a matter of grabbing and going. (Granted, you’ll probably still have to run back in for something, but the fewer trips the better!)

Go Over Everyone’s Schedules

If you have more than one child, you’re going to have to do the ol’ school schedule juggle. Waiting until the day-of to deal with this will only result in massive confusion and, potentially, missed meetings or classes. Do yourself a favor and sit down with the family before school starts to go over everyone’s schedules. When that bell rings, no one should be second-guessing where they’re going.

Set Out Outfits

Consider yourself one of the lucky ones if your child’s school has uniforms — that cuts down on a lot of the “what to wear on the first day” drama (disclosure: if you have teens, there will still be drama). If your child won’t be wearing a uniform, make sure first-day outfits are chosen and laid out the night before school starts. Otherwise, you’re looking at a big headache when someone can’t find their favorite shirt!

If your child is among the many millions starting school while remote learning during COVID-19, you can still instill a clothing routine by encouraging they not wear their pajamas and don a shirt, sweater, or hoodie they would wear to school anyway. Expressing themselves through clothing might give kids something to look forward to when the going gets tough.

Have A Pep Talk

The first day of school is exciting, yes. It’s also perfectly natural for it to turn even the most confident kid into a bundle of nerves — especially if they’re new. Come together as a family to head off major anxiety at the pass. Start an open dialogue and make sure your sweet student knows they can continue that conversation at any point throughout the school year.

If your child’s school will still be practicing social distancing or virtual learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, turn that pep talk into a pep rally. They’ll probably need some extra pumping up! Reassure them that you’ll help them through anything that comes up. Ask them how they feel about social distancing adjustments. That way, you can address concerns head-on. And, in the case of education during the pandemic, you can determine what the best path is for your family going forward.