Twenty Back-to-School Tips for Parents

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Jessica Pilling is Orchard Place Child Guidance Center's School Based Therapy Supervisor. She advises parents to start now to get their children ready for the new school year.

Tip to Get the School Year off to a Good Start

Start a fun yearly new school tradition, for example, a special breakfast for the first day, a yearly photo, bring a surprise to their new teacher. Keep it fun!

Twenty Back to School Tips for Parents

1.    Take the time to do a classroom visit before school starts and meet with the teacher if possible.
2.    Help your child find his or her locker and walk thru what a daily room change will be for your child.
3.    Parents should get their children into a school sleep schedule at least 2 weeks before school
4.    Establish (or re-establish) a routine for bathing, breakfast, lunch etc.
5.    Parents also need to get back into the school routine state of mind.
6.    Find a designated place in the home for school items.
7.    Realize a child being nervous about school is normal.
8.    There are a number of books that parents can read to young children in preparation for school, for example, Berenstain Bears Go Back to School, Maisy Goes to School, The Kissing Hand, Llama, Llama Misses Mama.
9.    Parents should stay in a positive perspective about school, encouraging their child.
10.    Remind children that they will get to see their friends again, even if they are not in the same classroom.
11.    Realize that changes in school districts can also create a big adjustment for the students.
12.    Help your child find the right bus since route (pick up, drop off may change with a new year).
13.    Let the teacher and school officials know if the child has any special needs (getting medication to the nurse, check –ins with the guidance counselor).
14.    Notify the teacher if any major life changes such as divorce or a death in the family has occurred during the summer
15.    A few stomachaches or headaches may be normal the first week. But if this continues it may be best to check with a professional to find the source of the problem it may be anxiety or a medical condition.
16.    Parents can build bridges to communication with their child’s teacher through phone calls or email. Email is a quick way to give an update regarding any issue.
17.    Sooner the parent starts prepping for the school year the better.
18.    If you drive your child to school utilize that time as a positive, relationship building time with your child.
19.    Parents should develop a central calendar to keep track of all school related activities, late starts, early closings and any change in events or school events.
20.    Start a fun yearly new school tradition; for example, a special breakfast for the first day, a yearly photo, bring a surprise to their new teacher. Keep it fun!

About Orchard Place:
Orchard Place is the oldest locally-based charity in Des Moines providing mental health treatment and expertise for Iowa’s kids. Our inpatient, outpatient and community program serves nearly 8,000 children from birth to age 22 annually. Four operating divisions work under the Orchard Place umbrella of services: Child Guidance Center, Orchard Place Campus, PACE Juvenile Center and the Integrated Health Program. More information can be found at

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Craig Olson
Orchard Place
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