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Countdown to the First Day of School: Ages 5 to 8


One month before:

Set a rest routine. Establish a consistent bedtime routine and morning schedule so that your child goes to bed and wakes up at same time every day.

Review safety information. Make sure your child knows her full name, address, and phone number.

Discuss the calendar. Talk with your child about her school-year schedule and any extracurriculars she's interested in doing. Be sure to work in homework time, practice time, and plenty of downtime.

Update health records. Ensure that the school has updated medical records and contacts.

Clear the clutter. Sort through closets and get rid of old clothes, shoes, and toys. Be sure to have your child try on her clothes from last year, and determine what needs to be replaced. If she needs a school uniform, make sure all pieces are ordered.

One to two weeks before:

Practice lunchtime. Start preparing pretend school lunches and serve them for lunch at home. With your child, plan a selection of healthy meals she's sure to like.

Learn the route. Practice the driving, bus, bike, or walking route to and from school.

Talk about carpooling. If someone other than you will pick her up, decide on a meeting spot.

Buy school gear. Get an updated list from your child's teacher or school office. Mark supplies with your child's last name.

Plan for homework. Stock up extra supplies to keep at home. Have your child help pick a special homework area, and make sure the space is well-lit, quiet, comfortable, and isn't near distractions, like a television.

Create a landing spot. Clear a spot near the door for your child to put her backpack, coat, and anything else she brings home.

Visit the school. Make stops at your child's classroom, the office, the lunchroom, and the bathrooms, and meet your child's teacher.

One to two days before:

Plan a healthy start. Choose an energy-packed breakfast for the first school morning, and cook your child's favorite dinner for him the night before.

Pick a first-day outfit. With your child, decide what she will wear for the first day.

Pack up. Make sure your child's backpack is stocked and ready to go.

Plan a goodbye. Even if you aren't able to take your child to school most mornings, make it a point to drop her off yourself on the first day.