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Countdown to the first day of school

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By GreatSchools Staff

Two weeks before: Back-to-school shopping

What's the best strategy for back-to-school shopping? Get organized, stock up on the basics, look for sales and promotions, but don't buy too much before school starts.

"Typically teachers each send home a list of what they want students to bring to school," says Glass. "I think it's best to wait until the first day or week of school when the list is issued. Otherwise, you might find yourself purchasing items that your children do not need. I sometimes buy binder paper, highlighters, and pencils and keep them for fall. But then what happens is that my child will be fickle about the type of highlighter or pencil he likes. To this point, it's also best to wait to shop with your child and to have the teacher's list in hand."

Check these articles for more back-to-school shopping tips:

One week before: Get organized

The start of school is just around the corner, so now's the time to make sure everything is in order at your house — initial back-to-school supplies are on hand, after-school activities and care are arranged, and you've established a quiet, orderly place in your home for your student to keep school papers and study.

Fill out the necessary forms well in advance.

Does your school send emergency and informational forms for you to fill out? Don't wait until the night before school starts to get these ready.

Establish expectations and routines for the school year ahead.

"Have a night-time routine and stick to it," says Glass. "Begin it in August so kids are accustomed to it when school starts." Her suggestions include: no television Sunday to Thursday nights, instant message only after homework is done, no texting or instant messaging after a certain hour, read for at least 20 minutes before bed. Glass does acknowledge that many students are able to instant message, do their homework and achieve good grades. "If they can keep up good grades, allow them to go back and forth," she says. "It's the way of the world now. When I work, I go back and forth from writing to checking my email and I still get my job done. Keep this in mind when enforcing that students do not text or instant message while doing their homework. Know your child. Some are able to multitask and some are not."

"A week or so before school starts, talk through with your kids what they envision their schedule will be like," advises Steinberg. "For younger children, explain the schedule and how the days will be organized. For secondary school children, ask them to explain what their schedule will be like what classes they are taking, what extracurricular activities, work schedule, etc. Help them think ahead as to how to handle their responsibilities. When will they block out time for homework? When will they block out time to practice? Help them make sure the schedule is 'realistic.'"

Talk about school changes with your child.

"If your child is changing schools or going to a new school for the first time, remember that it can be very anxiety provoking," says Steinberg. "This anxiety can manifest itself in several ways. Watch for it and be supportive."

Parents need to prepare for school and getting involved, too.

"Parent involvement in schools matters," adds Steinberg. "Parents should think about the level of involvement they can commit to for the year. Whether one field trip or volunteering weekly, figure out the level of involvement you can commit to and stick with it." For more tips on getting organized for the academic year ahead, check these articles: