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

The Day Before

Pre-pack your child's knapsack. Doing it the night before will cut down on the morning rush. Also designate a special corner or basket where your child should always leave her knapsack when she returns home so it never gets misplaced.

Choose a first-day outfit. Don't forget about socks, undies, and shoes. And leave nothing to chance: Check the forecast, and pick an alternate outfit, in case the weather turns.

Get his lunch ready. Many parents do this as they make dinner so there's only one cleanup. Leave the lunch box open so you don't forget to add refrigerated items (like sandwiches and milk) in the morning. Pack a drawing of a smiley face too-it'll make your child's day. Click here for Parents.com's free lunchbox love notes to print and personalize.

Keep the evening calm. Avoid noisy games and TV-but don't force your child to turn in early. In fact, if anything, send her to bed 15 minutes later than usual, Dr. Pelayo says. She'll fall asleep more easily and won't wake up cranky.

Set the mood. Read a story about the joys of school. Some great choices for small kids: The Kissing Hand, I Love You All Day Long, and If You Take a Mouse to School.

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