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Back to School Countdown: Is Your Child Ready?

How to prepare your kids for the upcoming school year.

T-minus two weeks until the start of the new school year. It's exciting, but can also be a little nerve-racking for your kiddos. Helping your children transition their schedules now will help them feel prepared and be the best they can be when school starts. Here are some fun ways to set those wheels in motion!

Nerves and Excitement

Combat the first day of school nerves by building up your child's excitement about all the fun things to look forward to this school year. Make the countdown to school fun by creating something fun to do each day. There's an app for that! Check out "First Day of School Countdown" by Appracaddabra; during the final week before school, your child will get a special surprise each day, from a animated character greeting to a fun puzzle to solve.

I also saw an idea about counting down the final days of the school year, and thought I'd apply the idea to the end of summer. Here's my plan for the final 11 days before my daughter starts S-E-C-O-N-D-G-R-A-D-E:

S- School Week Schedule: Write it out, and post it on her bedroom door--everything from morning and after school routine, homework time, and extracurricular activities.
E- Eat ice cream for breakfast!
C- Get Crafty: Make her new teacher a small gift.
O- One more day at the pool.
N- Movie Night: Something school-themed, like "Ramona and Beezus," "Freaky Friday," "School of Rock," or "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
D- Decorate school binder with paint pens and puffy paint.
G- Game night with the whole family.
R- Read a school-themed book like "Junie B. Jones" or "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."
A- Art day: Spend time making artwork of our favorite summer memories.
D- Getting Dressed! Pick out the first day of school outfit.
E- Early to bed! (But a surprise is waiting for her in the morning--shhh!) Check out what awaits her on her first day of school! This is why I heart Pinterest.

Getting Back into Routines

Part of the joy of summer for kids is having more freedom, staying up later, playing for hours outside. Well, school days are upon us, and that means getting back into school year routines.

Sleep: Start getting back to the bedtime needed for your child to get enough sleep during the school week (about 10 hours on average for 3-12-year-olds). If your child's bedtime is way off, you may want to gradually adjust her bedtime and wake up time by fifteen minutes each night over the next few weeks until her bedtime is where it needs to be.

Meals: If summer eating in your household has been more like grazing, pantry raids, and popsicles than actual meals, it's time to get back into the healthy food groove. Start their school days with fun and yummy breakfasts like these easy recipes:

Pancake Bites 

1-Minute Oatmeal Muffin 

Mini Frittatas that you can make ahead and freeze

Also, consider how early your child may end up eating their school lunch. To help their stomachs adjust to the new meal schedule, you may want to skip mid-morning snacks and move up their lunch time to mimic their school day schedule.

Homework: While there's no need to turn from Fun Mommy to a homework tyrant overnight, you might need to get your child used to the idea of doing school work at home. You can ease the kids into the school routine by adding reading time in the afternoons, around the time they will be doing their homework. They can do mathematics games, spelling contests, or just read to themselves or to you for a half hour. It will not only get them back into a routine, but also practice those reading and math skills that may have gotten a bit rusty over the summer.

Summer Recap

Now is a great time to do a family project to remember all the fun things you did over the summer. Be it a scrapbook, photobook, journal entry, or end-of-summer art piece, working on a project as a family will help you enjoy the memories you have made.

Spending time with your child talking about the new school year, making end-of-summer plans together, and building their back-to-school excitement will ultimately help them feel more confident about their first day of school.

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