SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Sleepovers, movie nights, evening swims, concerts, camps, ball games and sleeping in; they are all part of the joys of summer, which seems endless when school lets out in June. However, all the summertime fun makes getting the kids back on school time a nightmare come September.

For Spotswood and Milltown students, the school year begins early this year on September 2, a week before Labor Day weekend. In order to help make the transition back into the school year a smooth one, it is extremely helpful to begin getting children adjusted to the switch to the regular schedule before the first day.

The mistake many parents make is waiting until the last minute. If you've been staying up late and sleeping in for two and a half months, it's pretty tough to then turn it around and reset the biological clock the night before school starts.

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Many pediatricians suggest beginning at least a week prior to the beginning of school by easing kids back into their bedtime and wake time. For example, if the bedtime will be nine o'clock for the school year, start getting them into bed at least fifteen minutes earlier every evening until the designated bedtime is reached. The same plan applies to the morning, especially if they have been sleeping in for most of the summer. Start waking them fifteen minutes earlier each day.

Since parents will want kids to rise in the morning, get dressed, eat and brush teeth come school time, start doing the same thing while readjusting the bedtime and wake time. Pajama days are great in the summer and on the weekend, but not when everyone needs to be dressed and out the door at a certain time.

Some other tips for a less stressful start to the school year are:

  • Attend any school orientations. Meeting the teacher prior to school and touring the building can help lessen anxiety about starting a new school.
  • Let each child pick a special activity or outing the week before school is set to start.
  • Make sure backpacks are ready to go with all the school-requested supplies.
  • Organize a quiet area for homework and set a designated time, especially if kids have after school activities and sports practices.
  • Pick out clothes the night before.
  • Have shoes ready to go.
  • Pack lunches the night before and let kids have a hand in the process. Lunch-making doesn't always have to me mom's job.

It's normal for kids to not want summer to end. Let's face it, many parents don't want it to either. Back to school usually means back to everything; homework, sports, practices, games, dance. Everyone's schedule gets crazier come September. The slow pace of summer is appealing. However, like all good things, it must come to an end.

Yet, September means fall is just around the corner; pumpkins, hay rides, corn mazes and Halloween. In just over nine months, it will be time to stick those toes in the sand again.