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FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — With summer break coming to an end, it is about time for our little ones to start school for the first time and for our older children to return to the classroom. As a parent, you may be busy buying school supplies, backpacks and clothes for the fall. You might be wondering what is going to be different this year and anticipating those possible last-minute items that did not make the list. Each year, you wonder what you could do to simplify the process.

To help parents, here is a list of ideas and projects you can do at home to ease both you and your child back into school:

  • Start talking about school, bed-times and expectations. Ask your child what they think about school. Find out if they are excited, scared or if they just need extra time to transition or get used to being back in school.
  • Make a visual task list on a calendar. Include things to do such as buying supplies, getting new clothes and shoes, packing a book bag or packing lunches. Mark off each accomplished task and day.
  • Start a home and school schedule a couple of weeks out. Focus on specific time changes, especially bedtime and wake-up time. Post the schedule so everyone knows what is expected and when. Allow your child to determine if they need more supervision on this, and if you are needed to remind or assist. A great deal of confusion can be prevented when the routine is planned a week or two ahead of time.
  • For younger elementary children, you might make a wardrobe picture book. You and your child can put their attire together. Take a picture of the complete outfit. Allow the child to pick out their desired outfit the night before, bring out all items and then let the child confirm it in the morning. Remember that sometimes their mood will dictate what they want to wear.
  • Practice the everyday skills of tying shoes, zipping zippers or even walking in new shoes. Review the school requirements for face mask procedures so they become comfortable with the change in routine.
  • Schedule times to get haircuts or stylings. Grooming and beauty care are often just as important for children as what they wear to school. If needed, plan for the additional time and care items they might need to style their hair.
  • Call the school to schedule a walk through before school starts. For children who feel overly anxious in new environments, this helps to alleviate some of their fears if they can see rooms, lockers and hallways before the rush is on and all the other children are there.

While students and parents are confronted with back-to-school challenges, these tips can help to make the transition smooth. Both parents and students can experience quality time together and learn valuable life skills in the process.

Army Community Service is available to help if you have questions or concerns. Call 573.596.4268.

(Editor’s note: The Waynesville R-VI School District 2021-22 school year is scheduled to begin Aug. 23. Visit their website for more information.)