Transitioning back to school

July 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's almost back to school time and it's important to remember that kids aren't the only ones who have to prepare, parents do too. Shannon Eis, toy expert and consultan for LeapFrog Toys & Games, has suggestions for products to help ease the transition.

Getting ready at home:

1. Review the material sent by the school as soon as it arrives. These packets include important information about your child's teacher, room number, school supply requirements, dress code, sign ups for after-school sports and activities, school calendar dates, bus transportation and health and emergency forms.

2. Make a supply checklist and buy early! Some teachers require specific supplies - and save receipts for items that you may need to return later.

3. Ease your child back into the learning process with some independent reading or play time - encourage quiet games, puzzles, flash cards, coloring, or reading as early morning activities instead of watching television. Your child will arrive at school better prepared to learn each morning if he or she has engaged in interactive activities.

4. Re-establish the bedtime and mealtime routines - especially breakfast - at least 1 week before school starts.

5. Have necessary medical and emergency contact information updated and submitted to school in advance; make copies for your own records. Schedule doctor and dental checkups early.

6. Sneak in an early visit to the school - it's comforting for younger students to visit their new school ahead of time in order to see their new classroom, hallways, cafeteria and bathrooms! Call your school office to see if they offer early tours during registration.

7. A few days before school begins, wrap up summer vacation with a family night. Fire up the barbeque and sit down for a summer memory time. Gather vacation photos, postcards, maps...

8. Mark your calendar for important dates, especially back-to-school nights. This is especially important if you have children in more than one school and need to juggle obligations. Arrange for a babysitter now, if necessary.

The First Day:

  • Enlist your child in the planning for the first day of school-this gives a sense of control and independence. Organize supplies, clothing, lunch money and snacks the night before school to ensure a smoother start to the day.
  • Visit school with your child, especially if your child is young or in a new school. Meeting the teacher, locating their classroom, locker, lunchroom, etc., will help ease pre-school anxieties and also allow your child to ask questions about the new environment.
  • Pack a lunch for the first few days until your child gets the hang of the lunchroom. Let him know it's fine if he decides not to eat it if they decide to buy lunch instead. For the School Year:
  • Designate and clear a place to do homework. Older children can study in their room or a quiet area of the house; younger children usually need an area where adults can supervise and offer encouragement.
  • Keep important papers in order - especially if you have more than one child.
  • Use hanging folders for each child's permission slips and newsletters, etc.
  • Let each child decorate their own folder
  • Create a solution for larger art work and projects
  • Un-used large pizza boxes or under-the-bed storage container
  • Let each of your children decorate and label them with name, grade and year.
  • Choose a backpack with your child in mind - wide, padded straps and padded back. Heavier items packed closest to the center of the back. It shouldn't weigh more than 10-20% of the child's body weight. Consider rolling backpack.

Products featured in segment:

LeapFrog's Didj, $89.99
Purchase at all major retailers including Target, Toys R Us and LeapFrog.com

LeapFrog's TAG, $49.99
Purchase at all major retailers including Target, Toys R Us and Leapfrog.com

I.D. bag tag, $4.99
Purchase at Staples and most retailer stores.

Backpack, $44.99
Purchase at Sporting Good Stores and Staples.

Lunch Bag, $5-$12
Purchase at your local retailer.

Hanging Files $16
Purchase at Staples

School Supplies
Order online at Staples.com or Officmax.com

About Shannon Eis
Shannon Eis is a toy industry expert with extensive broadcast experience. In addition to her regular appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman as that show's toy and technology expert, she has appeared on Martha Stewart, TODAY Show, CBS Early Show, CNN, ABC News and others. She is also a contributing writer to Toy Wishes magazine, focusing on the topic of toy safety. Previously, Eis was the communications director of the Toy Industry Association, the toy industry's trade group, serving as the industry spokesperson on topics ranging from toy trends and play patterns to consumer safety and regulatory affairs. Shannon is a consultant for LeapFrog. She is a mom and former communications director of the Toy Industry Association.


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