Back to school can be a stressful time for the entire family. Lazy summer days are abruptly replaced by hectic mornings packed with new classes, practices, homework and a variety of other stressors. Being unprepared for this time of the year can impact your child’s mental health and their performance in school. Arm yourself with these tips to help your kids, and you, ease into the new semester.

Enjoy the last days of summer. Summer is a time for kids to relax and recharge; enjoy the last few days as a family. Take time to have a “reset” for you and your kids. This could be an extended road trip over a long weekend or a nice “staycation” where you visit local places for fun and adventure. You can dedicate time to complete a family project. Organize old school projects into a “forever box” for your kids to keep. Clean out the spare room and donate some unused items. Take this moment to practice gratitude by being thankful for what you have and discuss how grateful another kid may be to receive these items. Everyone needs down time and a chance to recharge themselves, restore their sanity and be refreshed for the new school year.

Prepare for school and reinforce a love of learning by keeping your kids’ minds engaged. Set a goal together to complete at least 10 minutes of activities that stimulate their brains. For example, pick up some workbooks for classes they will have next fall. Stop by the library and check out the new release shelf. Read the first page of a few books in the library together. Once you find one that sounds interesting check it out.

Take time to make sure the first few weeks are successful. Give your kids (and yourself) 30 more minutes than you think they’ll need in the mornings – a relaxed morning routine establishes the foundation for a successful day. Save time and maybe a little sanity in the morning by letting your kids pick out some fun Lunchables for lunch or an after-school snack. Intentionally set aside time at the end of the day to talk. Ask your kids for specifics of their day.  Use powerful questions such as “What are your thoughts about school so far? or what possibilities are you looking forward to this year?” Have them share one thing they learned in school that day. Focus on their mental well-being by asking about their friends or discussing topics they may have seen on the news or on social media. Be mindful and actively listen as they share. These few shared moments together each night will provide unique perspectives into your children’s day to day lives.

Back to school doesn’t have to be stressful. Focusing on enjoying the last days of summer, keeping their minds engaged, being prepared for the new year and taking the time to engage with them daily can reduce stress and make this back to school season the best one yet!