Sharon Peters, parenting expert and soother of nerves, gives us the essential tools to prepare ourselves, oh and the kids too, for heading back to school. 

A good beginning to your child’s school year can help the months ahead go more smoothly. Here are some ideas that can make a difference and (hopefully) lead to a first week with no tears.

Before school starts:

1. Involve your child in selecting school clothes, backpacks, lunch foods, and anything else exciting or interesting. Eliciting children’s input in practical preparations can be fun and often helps young students look forward to their first days and weeks.

2. A few days before school starts ask your child to say or write down anything they are looking forward to and any worries they might have about the year ahead. Try hard to listen more than you talk. Listening to children’s thoughts, even when they are troublesome or unwarranted, helps concerns and potential frustrations become less onerous and overwhelming.

3. It is, of course, also useful for parents to share helpful perspectives about the upcoming year. Remember that children are more likely to take in what is said if ideas are explained quickly and clearly. (Long talks from adults are rarely effective.) Also make sure the information offered is true, i.e. avoid saying a teacher will be funny or kind if that might not be the case; don’t promise the work will be easy or engaging if you’re not sure that will always happen. It is always better for a child to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed.

4. Walking by a child’s school or classroom can also help everyone “get ready” even when the school is already familiar. Your trip could provide a good opportunity to open up discussion and can bring school squarely into everyone’s concrete frame of reference

In the first few days:

1. Put a cheery note in your child’s lunch to remind him or her that you’re thinking of them during the day.

2. Employment and other obligations often make it hard to coordinate with school hours but if possible give yourself extra time in the morning so that you and your family are not too rushed or unorganized before leaving the house.

3. Also try to be home as early as you can in the first few days. Having one or two parents around helps children feel less alone with the excitement, challenges and transitions that every school year brings. Even when a child seems unfazed or unwilling to share the details of their day your presence will communicate that this time is important.

4.Try to figure out ways to have personal contact with your child’s teacher and other school personnel. Developing positive relationships as soon as possible can help any future communications go well.

The beginning of school can be full of hope and potential. Best wishes for a wonderful year!


Sharon Peters has recently completed a series of concise, inexpensive parenting booklets titled “Parenting:  The Art of Trying”. For more information see or contact Sharon directly