Back to School Basics for Families

If your family is like ours, we have registered the kids for school, we have started back to school shopping and there is mixed emotion in our house of anticipation for the new year and the end of summer. This time of the year can be both exciting and rough for both parents and children. 

As we ease in to the school season, here are some tips to help your family transition:

  • Review material. Spend some time reviewing things that your child learned last year. Depending on their age; it might be their ABCs, cursive writing, multiplication tables or maybe a foreign language that they were learning.
  • Decrease new school anxieties. If your child is heading to a new school, go visit the school to ease anxiety before the first day.  If your child plans to walk or bike, take them on that walk or ride to school a couple of times to increase familiarity. Talk about safety, including crossing intersections, being aware of their surroundings and how to handle potential situations they may encounter.
  • Update your calendar. Get school dates on your calendar.  It is always best to know ahead of time when the kids are off from school for holidays or have parent-teacher conferences. If their extra-curricular activity schedule has been published, go ahead and get that on the calendar while you can as well.
  • Complete required physicals and paperwork. Do any of your kids require physicals for school or sports participation? Is there any paperwork that needs turned in to participate in school activities? Now is the time to gather all of those items, fill them out and turn them in.   We may feel that as a parent, those are our things to worry about, but often our children worry about those things even if we feel we have it under control.
  • Establish school routines. It is never too early to start your school-time sleep routine.  Getting into a routine and keeping it can be beneficial to both kids and parents.
  • Approach the year with a good attitude. Get excited for the upcoming school year. Our kids are impressionable and if you have poor attitude about the upcoming school year, or any school event for that matter, it may influence your child’s mood and attitude. Remember that children listen and watch and often follow our lead.

I wish all of the teachers, parents and students a wonderful school year ahead filled with learning experiences and social emotional development.

For more information on family life-related topics and programs, visit our local University of Illinois Extension website at or contact Chelsey Byers Gerstenecker at 217-333-7672 or