By Guest Blogger Rebecca P. Ball, MD, Wake Forest Baptist Health Pediatrics – Kernersville

This time of year often creates a period of upheaval for families. Fortunately, a little planning will make the transition into the new school year go more smoothly. Here are my top tips for keeping back-to-school stress in check:

1. Budget for supplies. Back-to-school spending can wreak havoc on the family budget. As you’re going over your child’s list for his or her new grade, look for things you already have or that you can reuse from last year. For new clothes, consider consignment shops and gently used hand-me-downs. Once you get to the rest of the list, make a budget and stick to it by looking for coupons and store specials. Don’t forget that you may require more than what’s on the list. Consider your child’s needs as well as any special requests the teacher mentions during open house.

2. Don’t skip open house. And speaking of open house, it’s an important step in helping your child adjust to the new school year. Getting to know his or her teacher and classroom environment will go a long way toward reducing any anxiety your child may have. It’s also beneficial to you as a parent to be familiar with your child’s teacher.

3. Make sure your child is up to date on check-ups and vaccinations. If your child will be entering kindergarten or participating in school sports, the school system requires a well check-up, which is accompanied by a form that you’ll need to complete. You will also be required to present proof of your child’s vaccinations before kindergarten and middle school, so don’t forget to ask your pediatrician’s office to send your child’s vaccine records to the school.

4. Adjust your child’s sleep schedule. Most kids have more flexible sleep schedules in the summer. A couple of weeks before school, make sure your child is going to bed earlier and waking earlier. Keep in mind that he or she still needs 8-9 hours of sleep.

5. Schedule a few practice runs. The first day back to school rarely goes as planned. Your child may be nervous or used to sleeping late — or you may be unpracticed at getting him or her to the bus stop on time. To avoid potential snags, do a few trial runs with your child. Get him or her up at the time he or she will need to be awake for school, then get breakfast ready, bags packed and your child dressed. From there, drive or walk your child to the bus stop at the anticipated bus time. Doing this a couple of times will help you identify any hidden surprises before the big day. It’s a good idea to go over your afternoon routine as well.

6. Plan ahead for after school. Make sure there’s a set place in your house for homework, and be sure it is well stocked with supplies. If your child is in middle school or high school, make sure you have discussions with them about guidelines for electronics use, chores and time with friends. Don’t forget to plan time for any extracurricular activities your child may have.

What are your ideas for making back-to-school time less stressful? Leave your tip in the comments section below! If your son or daughter needs immunizations or a physical contact your pediatrician or PCP. You can also make an appointment with me by calling (336) 716-WAKE.

Sponsored by Wake Forest Baptist Health