Back to School: A Complete Checklist for Parents

Follow this checklist to make the transition less stressful.

Aug. 16, 2010— -- One of the hardest things about going back to school is getting back into the swing of things.

It's hard for children and parents, who have had months away from the rigidly scheduled days of classes, homework, sports practice and other extracurricular activities.

"Good Morning America" parenting expert Ann Pleshette Murphy sent us the following tips for getting back into the groove.

Here are her tips -- in her own words.

Put bedtime battles to rest now. If you start a week or two before the first day of school, you can slowly adjust the lax summer sleep schedule to a school night bedtime. Put your children to bed 10 minutes earlier each night -- that way the switch from 9:30 to 8 won't be such a shock.

Take your organizing online. Several websites exist to help you organize information (contacts, lists, tasks) in one place. Check out Got Family Get Organized, Evernote, and Remember the Milk.

Prepare for the deluge ... of forms, that is. In the coming weeks, you'll be getting everything from school supplies lists to health forms to permission slips to contact lists. Think through the organization of all that information now. Collect all forms you receive for each child and go through them at one time with your child(ren). Set up a filing system for everything. (You might consider scanning the forms to your computer, keeping a digital record rather than a cluttered paper trail.)

Post your child's class schedule somewhere you can see. You're guaranteed a better response when you ask "What games did you play in PE today?" or "What did Mrs. Martin show you in art?" rather than "How was school?"

Shop your closets before hitting the stores. You never know what you might find. There may be barely used or new school supplies, forgotten clothes, or an older backpack that's suddenly trendy again.

Keep receipts. Sure, the magenta ink pens look cool in the store, but what happens if your child gets to school and the teacher requires they use pencil only? Also, you never know if there will be new dress code rules to comply with. If you retain receipts when you go school shopping, you won't be out the cash if you've bought the wrong thing.

Volunteer your time or expertise. Dozens of research studies have shown that children whose parents are involved in their school do better academically and socially. Teachers appreciate parents who volunteer to come into the classroom or who are willing to raise funds for needed supplies or to advocate on their behalf.

Run inside and play. This year, when you get home from work and school, don't jump into the chores. Rather, make it a point to spend at least 15 to 30 minutes connecting as a family: play a game, take a walk, snuggle on the couch. This simple tweak in your evening schedule will do wonders to reduce whining, sibling rivalry and marital strife.

Back-to-School Checklist

Start readjusting to a school-year bedtime now.

Hang a family calendar and color-code everyone's activities.

Gather all school forms as they arrive.

Book babysitters now for your school's parents' night and other dates when they'll be in-demand.

Create a family station where you can find what you need as you head out the door.

Set up an in/out box for school forms.

Look at online organizational websites.

Discuss goals for the year.

Institute a night quiet hour.

Reach out to your child's teacher.

If your child is anxious, do a "trial-run" of the first day of school.

Post your child's schedule where you can see it.

Create a homework station.

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.