Preparing Your Kids for the First Day of School

The return to school in the fall is an exciting time for kids. They're eager to see old friends and meet new ones, sad to say goodbye to summer, and often a little nervous about learning new routines and getting used to new teachers and classmates. When we decided to compile a list of tips and tricks for easing the transition, we turned to the most trustworthy panel of experts we know: the parents who work right here at Pottery Barn Kids. Here is their sage advice for sending kids back to school with confidence.

  • Get them involved in the planning and preparation.

    Duncan and I talk about everything we need to start school, and I have him help me make lists. Now that Duncan is writing, he makes the lists of what we need to do each day to start preparing. We include him in shopping trips for new clothes and school supplies, as well as in the grocery shopping to make sure we get some of his favorite lunch treats.

    Ann Marie Snell - Catalog Production Manager
    Mother of Duncan, 7, and August, 2

  • Read stories about going to school.

    We read books about going to school to acclimate them to what it means and what they'll do there. We've also found it's helpful to take them to the school they'll attend to get them acquainted with the environment and meet the teachers.

    Jenni Zaidi - Director of Online Marketing
    Mother of Adam, 6, and Mina, 2

  • Prepare them for the new schedule ahead of time.

    When my kids were young (preschool, kindergarten), during the last week of summer break I used to gradually move their bedtimes up each night so they could get used to going to sleep earlier as well as waking up earlier.

    Audrey Gerber - Vice President of Brand Marketing
    Mother of Robby, 13, and Gavin, 11

  • Let them pick new gear so it feels like a real adventure.

    To get him excited about the first day, we set Soren up with a new backpack and lunch bag, as well as new shoes. Since he's in preschool, he doesn't really need supplies, but I buy some new pencils, crayons and workbooks for home so that our workspace is set for after school.

    Michelle Hummel - Vice President of Merchandising
    Mother of Soren, 5, and Emerson, 9 months

  • Help them practice some of their new routine.

    Before the first day, I pack a lunch so she can practice unzipping her new lunch box and opening all the containers, drinking out of the Klean Kanteen, opening the hot beverage container and putting it back in as well! (I had to show her she still needed to put all the lids back on when she was done.) We also lay out all her clothes way in advance and decide ahead of time how she wants her hair done. For me, it was all about no surprises and making it easy for her. We had the hair all tied up in braids, wore a dress that was easy to go to the bathroom in — and not brand-new shoes so she would be comfortable and could run and have fun!

    Jody Heltzel - Vice President of Stores
    Mother of Dahlia, 7