1. Make it a team effort.
If you're choosing among a few schools, talk with your children about what each school has to offer. When it comes time to select specific classes, make sure your children are part of the process.
2. Keep a positive focus.
As the first day draws near, begin talking to your children about their expectations, hopes and fears for the upcoming school year. Reassure them that other children are having the same feelings and that they are sure to have a great year. Present school as a place where they'll learn new things and make friends.
3. Encourage school involvement.
Though you don't want your teenagers to become over committed, it's important to encourage participation in one or two activities that particularly interest them. They are more likely to be engaged academically if they feel connected through a school activity, club or sport. Talk to them about their goals for the school year and how they might like to be involved in school outside of the classroom.
4. Early to bed, early to rise.
If your children have enjoyed a vacation of late nights and lazy mornings, getting them up for school on the first day can be difficult. Help make this transition easier by starting their school-year sleep routine a week or two in advance.
5. Take a trial run.
Take some time before the start of school to make sure you and your children know where to go and what to do on that first morning. Show your children where the bus stop is, or, if they walk, map out the safest route to school, avoiding vacant lots and places where there aren't a lot of people. Warn your children to always walk with a friend and scout out safe houses to go to in case of emergency. If you can find out what classroom your children will be in, visit the classroom ahead of time so they know exactly where to go in the morning. You may even want to call the school in advance to find out about any special first-day procedures.
6. Stock up on supplies.
On or before the first day of school, make sure you or your children find out what school supplies and materials are required. Most schools should provide a handy list for the younger grades, but if not, take it upon yourself to ask and then purchase them as soon as possible. Middle and high school students should be sure to take along a notebook and pen or pencil on the first day.
7. Prepare the night before.
To avoid the morning rush, organize what you can the night before. Lay out clothes, make a lunch and assemble any supplies your children may need. Be sure to get everyone up extra early so you'll have plenty of time to calmly get ready and get out the door on time.
8. Get a healthy start.
Encourage your children to eat a good breakfast and pack a healthy snack to help them get through the day.
9. Accompany your little one.
Even if your elementary-school children will be regularly riding the bus or walking to school, you may want to take them yourself on the first day, particularly if they seem nervous.
10. Introduce yourselves.
Young children are often shy with a new teacher. If you take your children to school on the first day, you might want to go into the classroom and introduce your children to the teacher. Let the teacher know about any special interests or challenges that your children have.