Ease your children back into their school schedule with these parent-tested tips.
Step 1: Reset their body clock If your children have been staying up late and sleeping in all summer, reset their body clocks: Starting two weeks before school, send them to bed a little bit earlier every night -- and get them up a little earlier every morning -- until they're back on a school-day schedule.
TIP: Get them used to the impending morning rush by planning early-morning activities they'll want to jump out of bed for.
Step 2: Take them shopping Take them shopping for school supplies and, if your budget permits, a few new back-to-school clothes. Let them have a say in the selection process to get them excited about the return to the classroom.
Step 3: Prepare their work area Help them prepare the area where they'll be doing their homework, especially if they seem anxious about the upcoming year. Having a clean, organized space with some new supplies may help ease their nerves -- and might even get them excited about a fresh start.
TIP: Surprise them with a new electronic gadget that can be used to do homework. Check out websites like eBay and Craigslist for bargains.
Step 4: Set up playdates Set up playdates with school friends they haven't seen all summer to remind them that the school year has its fun side.
TIP: If you're child is starting at a new school, see if it's possible to have them meet their new teacher before the school year starts.
Step 5: Cook ahead Make double batches of meals now so you can quickly defrost dinner during those first hectic days.
Step 6: Tamp down your own fears Keep any of your own anxieties about the upcoming school year to yourself. Children take their lead from you; if you seem composed, it may alleviate their own fears.
FACT: Up to 18 percent of children display anxiety over returning to school in the fall that can lead them to be disruptive in class, according to one study.