Countdown to School: A Timeline for Getting Ready for the Big Day

2 Weeks Before

Connect with classmates. Shortly before her twin daughters started kindergarten, Patty Eckman, of Greenwood, Indiana, hosted a class party, complete with a bus cake and school-related crafts. In University City, Missouri, Cindy Thierry organizes a summer picnic sponsored by the school's parent-teacher groups. "We especially try to include new students and their parents," she says. You can also invite one of your child's future classmates for a playdate. (Check to see whether a contact list is available.)

Start your shopping. Nothing builds excitement like a new pair of shoes, a fresh outfit, or cool supplies. Even if you're determined to save the bulk of your bargain hunting for later, when the big clearance sales start, you can still splurge on a colorful pencil case and a notebook.

Take a fun field trip. A great way to get your child into the learning spirit is to visit a place that's both entertaining and intellectually challenging, says Kenneth Haller, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Try your local children's museum, science center, zoo, or historical society.

Practice school skills. Forget academics -- we're talking about the little tasks that make the day easier. Your child should know how to:

Mark the days. Make a paper chain out of construction paper, and remove one link each day leading up to the start of school. Kids need time to get back into class mode.

  • Fasten and unfasten his knapsack and open his lunch box.
  • Undo his clothes so he can go to the bathroom.
  • Hang his coat on a hook.
  • Unscrew his thermos or any other container you pack food in.
  • Spell his full name, and recite his telephone number. Of course, knowing the alphabet and how to count to ten or 20 doesn't hurt either!

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