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

The First Day

Rise and shine. Get up 30 minutes before your child so you can shower and have your coffee before he wakes; you'll be cheerful, even if he isn't!

Make it feel like a celebration. Show your child how happy you are that she's reached this major milestone. Serve a favorite breakfast and give her a surprise, like a colorful eraser or a funky pencil, that she can take with her.

Budget time to take pictures. Years from now, you and your child will be glad you've captured this magic moment. Pick one special spot for photos, like the front porch or steps, and take a new shot at the start of each school year.

Arrive early. Most kids like having a few moments to get settled into their new classroom, and if your child is on the shy side, it's less intimidating to walk in before the room is packed with other nervous new students. Plan to show up at least ten minutes before the bell rings.

Welcome your hero home. At the end of the day, serve a special snack and ask how everything went. Plan to have dinner together as a family, if possible, and talk about it some more. Going over the highlights of the day -- plus encouraging your child to talk about his hopes and fears -- makes a terrific start to the year.

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