Back to school

Lee's Summit JournalJuly 23, 2014 

You may be ready for your kids to head back to school or you may be holding onto every minute of summer fun. In our house the words “back to school” are synonymous with “do your chores.” Regardless of your position, it’s time to start thinking about simple things you can do to ease the transition.

Buying school supplies can be expensive. Check your student’s school supply list for what you already have and what you need to purchase. Start watching ads for deals on supplies and stock up. Supplies often need to be replenished mid-year. Buy some extra now and save money later.

Work with your child/teen to complete an inventory of what clothing they need and want. I tell my kids I will set aside money for shopping after you clean out your outgrown, over worn clothes and provide me with a list of what you need. Set a budget and stick with it. If you have older kids, back to school shopping provides a great opportunity for them to prioritize needs and manage their spending budget.

Watch for school email regarding registration and other back to school activities. Make back to school events such as meet your teacher a family affair. If you have an older student, be sure to bring them to the school a few times before school starts so he/she can master opening their locker and walk their schedule. Participating in these activities often helps to ease anxiety.

Schedule doctor appointments before school begins and don’t wait until the last minute. Does your child need a physical to compete in a sport? Make sure you bring any forms the doctor needs to complete to the appointment. Are his or her immunizations current? A quick call to the doctor’s office may save you time and stress later.

Re-set the body clock. Summer often means later nights and sleeping in. Getting up at 6 a.m. when the body is used to 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. is a big adjustment. Instead of allowing things to “adjust themselves” that first week, be proactive and ease your child’s sleep-wake schedule to one closer to the school schedule.

Have your student set some goals for school performance. I like to give my kids a week to get to know their teachers and their expectations. At that point I ask them what they aim to accomplish in each class. A B in college algebra may be on target for some kids while others are capable of an A. Also ask, how can I support you in reaching your goal? I can set aside time to listen to you read for 15 minutes each day. With older kids it’s helpful to have them print their grades each week and explain to you any discrepancies with the goals they set.

I hope these simple tips will help to ease your family transition back to school. If you are interested in tips on another subject please email Kerri Gray at


Kerri Gray is a marriage and family therapist. She teaches the popular Love and Logic parenting classes. She also works with students and school staff on bullying prevention activities and teaches internet safety workshops in collaboration with Lee’s Summit Police Department staff. Kerri resides in Lee’s Summit with her husband Phil and four daughters.

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