By Ali Alowonle

Never have three months flown by so quickly as the sweet days of summer vacation. Just when you start settling into summer’s saddle, the school year suddenly knocks summer on its ass—a quick and not-so-painless death of every kid’s favorite season. The cessation of beach sand between the toes doesn’t have to be a devastation; we can take certain steps to help our children transition back to school.

Reset the Internal Clock

It’s difficult to get your kids nestled in bed when the sun is inviting your child to play. Even so, a week or so before school begins, start the bedtime routine 10 minutes earlier, and continue backing up 10 minutes each night until you get to the desired school-year bedtime. In addition to putting your kids to bed earlier, start waking them up earlier until you get to your school-year wakeup time. If you want to take it a step further, you can even have your kids get ready for the day and eat breakfast straight out of bed to get them ready for the school-morning hustle. This seems excruciating, but it helps kids reset their internal clock so their bodies and minds are ready for school.

Attend Back-to-School Events

Most schools have an open house event where students can drop off their supplies, check out their new classrooms, and meet their teachers. This pre-game show is a great opportunity to get in the school-mindset before the big game, especially for the anxious kids who have trouble transitioning to new environments. If there are additional school kick-off events, like curriculum information night, these are helpful to attend so that you have as much information as possible to help your child have a successful school year.

Cough up the Goods (and the Not-So-Goods)

Many teachers send home student information forms and parent surveys at the beginning of the year so that they can get to know your child. Don’t hesitate: this is your chance to divulge as much information as you can about your unique, special child. This is not the time to be embarrassed or reluctant to share your child’s challenges and needs–it’s best to give the teacher details right away in the beginning so that your child starts the year off on the best path.

Keep After-School Hours Open

School is exhausting and demanding, especially at the starting line when kids are getting used to the pace of the nine-month marathon. Leave plenty of room open in the after-school hours for your child to choose what it is that he or she wants to do, as the entire day has mostly been decided for him or her. Try not to overschedule your child with after-school activities; rather, provide time for the outdoors, play, and rejuvenation.

Find Time to Connect

Even when a child has an amazing start in September, the transition back to school is a huge adaptation—consider it a “life-changing event” that you check off at the doctor’s office along with divorce, new job, death of a loved one . . . . Carve time out of each day to check in with your child to see how school is going. Even if your child doesn’t divulge anything, she or he knows that you care and are there to listen and support when she or he is ready to share.

Wishing you a wonderful new school year!