I'd be lying if I said I haven't had a wonderful summer. It's been filled with fun, family and fantasy! But I gotta admit ... I am looking forward to the kids going back to school. My to-do list is a mile long, and I'm longing for the structure (and not to mention the solitude) of those lovely school days.  

But one thing that I am NOT looking forward to ... helping my kids transition from the carefree days of summer to the rigors and structure of the school year. Dr. David Swanson, Psy.D. and author of Help! My Kid Is Driving Me Crazy: The 17 Ways Kids Manipulate Their Parents and What You Can Do About It (Perigee, Sept. 2009) says parents can help kids make a smooth transition by encouraging small behavior changes before school starts. Here are his seven tips to help ease the transition from summer to school:

  • Before school starts, send your child to bed at the normal school-year bedtime.
  • Start waking your child up at the same time he would if school were in session. (Waking up early is a great trick for getting a child to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.)
  • Begin to set limits around things that conflict with school-year priorities (video games, television, overnights, e.g.).
  • If assigned, make sure that your child's summer academic projects are completed and ready to be handed in.
  • Put other structured routines — such as dinner time, baths/showers, and hygiene rituals — back into place.
  • Regardless of the stress, fight the battles of getting back to the normal routine now. Waiting for the school year to return will only add to your stress.
  • Lastly, take your child shopping for school clothes and supplies. Usually, new clothes and supplies elevate a child's excitement about returning to school.