Back-to-school tips for parents & teachers

(Compiled by professors and instructors at UF’s College of Education and its affiliated P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.)

With the start of the new school year upon us, several professors and instructors at UF’s College of Education and its affiliated P.K. Yonge Developmental Reearch School have compiled a few lists of Back-to-School Tips to help PARENTS and their school-aged kids make a smooth transition from the restful (for most) summer break to the excitement and, yes, some anxiety (for some), of a new school year. Accompanying the TIPS FOR PARENTS, below, are also some TIPS FOR TEACHERS, who prepare for the new school year from an entirely different perspective than the parents. Read both sets of tips and you can gain some perspective and respect for the effort that both parents and teachers put into the education of our children.

Read, learn, enjoy. (And for PARENTS OF NEW COLLEGE STUDENTS, there’s some BACK-TO-SCHOOL Tips for you, too. Just click here to view the list.)

Tips for PARENTS

1)       CHECK IN WITH YOUR CHILD. Before the first day of school, schedule a Q&A with your student about how they’re feeling about school starting.  What are they looking forward to?  What are they nervous about?  Who are they excited to see?

2)       SHOP FOR SUPPLIES TOGETHER. Have your student help shop for their school supplies. This helps them build excitement about returning to school.  

3)       REVIEW ASSIGNED SUMMER READING. Talk to your student about their summer reading assignments. You could even help your younger elementary student re-read some parts of the books.  

4)       START SCHOOL BEDTIME ROUTINE AHEAD OF FIRST DAY. During the summer it’s easy to have later bedtimes, but once the school year starts students have to wake up early again. Start helping your student get back on a regular sleep schedule before school starts back up so they won’t be so tired the first few days of school. Add 20-30 minutes to your normal wake-up routine to give the whole family extra time to prepare for the change.

5)       WALK THEM TO CLASS? ASK FIRST. Ask your younger student if they would like you to walk them to their classroom door or if they would like you to simply drop them off at school on the first day.  Let your student be your guide.  You want to support them but not suffocate them.  

6)       BREAKFAST IS GR-R-R-REAT! Healthy breakfast routines are crucial. Make sure your student eats a good breakfast every day. If they eat their morning meal at school, make sure they arrive in time to be served.

7)       REQUEST PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCE EARLY ON. Email your student’s teacher for a parent teacher conference.  This helps you connect with the teacher, ask questions about the school year, and find out ways you can support your student outside of the classroom.


1)       COMMUNICATE-COMMUNICATE-COMMUNICATE. Establish clear communication patterns between you and your teaching team, you and your students, and you and your students’ parents.

2)       FUN INTRO LETTER. Send students a fun letter introducing yourself. This gets your students excited for school.

3)       AVOID EARLY BURNOUT. Try to leave school by 5 p.m. every day during preplanning. You don’t want to burn out before school starts.  

4)       EAT HEALTHY. Eat a good breakfast, treat yourself to lunch (because you won’t get to go out to lunch when school starts), and have a healthy dinner. Bring a water bottle to school so you can stay hydrated.  

5)       PLAN AHEAD EARLY. Plan out your first few weeks of class and know that it’s okay if your plans change.  

RELATED READING:  Special column . . . “EASING CHILDREN’S ANXIETY BEFORE THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL” by Dorene Ross, Ed.D., professor of teacher education at UF’s College of Education and co-author of the lists above.

Dorene Ross, Ed.D., professor of curriculum, teaching and teacher education; UF College of Education; 352-273-4206;
SOURCE: Ashley Pennypacker Hill, M.Ed., elementary science instructor, P.K. Yonge School; 352-392-1554;
Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137;