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Back to School



t’s hard to believe the new

school year is almost here. But if you start early

and progress gradually, your kids will feel better

about themselves and your quality of life will

be much-improved. The key is to put the right

strategies in place.

Get organized –

Do this well in advance so there’s no

rushing at the last minute to buy

supplies, books and uniforms or to

fill out paperwork.

Develop a command center –

Set it

up in a convenient location. Encourage

the kids to write down on a white

board the things they need at least three

days in advance. Establish an out box

for each child. As they unpack their

book bags, they can put any papers you

need to read or sign in the in box, and,

in the morning, they can take whatever

is in their out box. Post a calendar so

they see what their activities are and

any special items they need for that

day. Children thrive on structure; they

will have the security of knowing where

to look for information, and they will

learn responsibility.

A safe, stress-free area –

Create a place

where your child knows he or she can

have quiet time. It can be a corner of their room that

you set up with big pillows, a blanket, coloring books,

crayons and music. Make sure it’s an unplug zone, with no

computers or phones.

Set an example –

Your point of view regarding stress

invariably become theirs. Your mood sets the mood of

your children.

Talk positively –

Talk with your kids about the upcoming

school year, and ask them which after-school activities

they would like to participate in. Don’t overschedule them.

Acknowledge their nervousness and brainstorm ways to

ease it. Keep the focus on the positive and not about how

the previous year went. Keep communication open by

making yourself available to listen, not necessarily to talk.

If they start to get anxious, redirect their thoughts to the

fun they had over the summer.

School mode –

About two weeks before the first day of

school, talk with your kids and make sure everything is

in place. Let them know that school

mode begins during the last week of

summer vacation. This means going

to bed at the set school time. During

that week, talk with them about

your expectations, explain what the

command center is all about and make

a cheat sheet with their schedule,

locker combination, teachers’ names

and room numbers.

Once school starts, establish a

nighttime routine of packing lunches,

getting school clothes out, setting the

alarm clock and putting the backpack

by the door. In the morning, don’t

throw open the bedroom door and

yell “Time to get up.” Give the kids

a few minutes of cuddle time before

you turn on the light. Make them a

healthy breakfast and send them out

the door with a bottle of water. Staying hydrated means

less fatigue and a better mood and memory. After school,

give them play and quiet time and a structured time and

environment in which to do their homework.

And last, but certainly not least, it is never too early

to teach your children to think positively and to laugh as

often as they can. Except, of course, in class.

Debbie Martinez is a divorce coach with a private

practice in Mount Pleasant. Learn more at



Photo by Rick Walo.

Debbie Martinez urges parents to put the right

strategies in place for the new school year.