Congratulations, parents! You’ve made it through the summer, and it’s finally time to send the kids back to school! There’s nothing quite like the first day of school. Freshly sharpened pencils, new shoes, a blank agenda planner waiting to be filled – is there anything more exciting? I loved the first days of school so much I became a teacher! (Just kidding…but seriously, the first day is the best!)

Have you made your back-to-school list and checked it twice? If not, no problem! The best thing about each new school year is the opportunity for a fresh start. Whether you’re sending your little ones off to second grade or senior year, it’s important to be prepared. Here are a few tips to help make the transition from summer vacation to getting an education as seamless as possible.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
We know you’ve heard this one before and that’s because it’s true! When your child starts the day with a solid breakfast, you’re helping ensure that he or she will be more focused and thus more successful in the classroom. For many children, the lunch bell doesn’t ring for hours after arriving at school. If your child is in high school, it’s especially important to make sure he or she is eating breakfast. Most high schools don’t allow food in class which means no snack time. Ouch! If time isn’t on your side in the morning, items like breakfast muffins make for a quick, nutritious, morning meal. Whip up a batch ahead of time and pop them in the freezer to keep them fresh. (Pinterest has some awesome recipes!)

Talk, talk, talk.
Thanks to technology, communication with your child’s teacher shouldn’t be limited to Parent-Teacher Conferences in November. Parents who are ready and willing to chat about their children are a teacher’s dream-come-true. You know your child best, so talking with his or her teacher can make all the difference. Whether you have a particular concern or just want to open the lines of communication for the year, send a quick email. Teachers’ days are just as jampacked as yours, so email is often the most effective means of communication.

It’s all about routine.
If you haven’t noticed, kids LOVE routine. Step into a kindergarten classroom for 10 minutes if you don’t believe me. Discussing the day’s weather before putting the date on the calendar can throw off an entire day, and the students will be the first to let you know. (Trust me, I’ve made this mistake!) Your child has a routine at school, so why not establish one at home? Something as simple as having a designated homework station can be a real game changer when it comes to getting homework done in a timely manner every night. Use a calendar and fill it with school functions and due dates to stay organized (and sane). Develop a routine and stick to it – your child and his or her teacher will thank you!

“80 percent of success is showing up.”
Missing one day of 8th grade may not seem like the end of the world, but packing a year’s worth of information into 180 days means each and every day of school is important. Students who attend school consistently are more likely to succeed, so make a conscious effort to keep your child’s attendance high. But when the stomach flu hits your household, do everyone a favor and give your child time to recover at home. In the event of an absence, find out what your child missed. Remember, all it usually takes is an email. With 20+ students to look after (100+ for high school!), teachers can’t always chase down your child to provide a recap of the previous day. Know your child will be absent in advance? Get the work! And please, please, please, give the teacher more than one day’s notice.

There is no such thing as a stupid question.
School can be a crazy place. Parents know it, teachers know it, and the bus driver definitely knows it. The best way to handle 13 years of excitement? Ask questions. Whether you’re feeling lost about how your child is supposed to make a battery out of a potato for Science class or you can’t remember whether library books are due on Day 2 or 6, ASK! No question is too menial. By asking questions, you are not only setting your child up for success, but also setting a positive example. Many students are afraid to voice their concerns, and seeing mom or dad ask questions can help them feel more comfortable asking their own questions both in and out of the classroom.

Well, are you ready? There’s nothing to it, right? Take a deep breath and enjoy this time, because, remember, Winter Break is right around the corner!

P.S. Keep an eye out for back-to-school sales at stores like Staples, where you can find school supplies at low prices. Folders and crayons for just 50 cents? Score!