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

1 Week Before

Attend orientation. When you do, look all around-not just at your child's classroom, but also at the bathrooms, the playground, and the rooms for art, music, phys ed, and more. Point out special materials and equipment you don't have at home, such as a neat set of finger-paints or a big sandbox, so he has some specific activities to look forward to trying, says Stacy DeBroff, author of the upcoming The Mom Book Goes to School.

Come up with a list of favorite lunches. Work with your child to decide what she wants-and start shopping for the ingredients you'll need. (For great snack recipes, click here.)

Hop on the bus. Some kindergartens provide bus-safety instruction and practice rides as part of their orientation. If your school or preschool doesn't and your child will be bused, try taking a few trips on a public bus so she gets used to the idea.

Run through your routine. Explain what's involved in getting ready for school, including when your child will wake up, how much time he'll have for breakfast, and what he'll need to gather before leaving. Hold several rehearsals.

Get your child's sleep in sync with his school schedule. If your child has been staying up late and snoozing all morning, next week's new rules will come as a big shock. Luckily, young kids adapt quickly. Instead of tucking your child in earlier-he'll just toss and turn, Dr. Pelayo says-focus on a consistent wake-up time and get him out of bed no matter what. Discourage long naps (except for the one that corresponds to school naptime). In a few days, his internal clock will reset itself.

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