You’ve fulfilled the classroom shopping list, bought new clothes, shoes and have back-to-school night circled on your calendar. But what else can you do to setup your child for success this school year?

We sat down with Nicole Packer, nationally board-certified kindergarten teacher from Hopi Elementary School and a 2016-2017 recipient of the Arcadia News Teachers We Love award, to uncover tips and tricks that can help parents prepare their kids to go back to the classroom this fall: 

AN: How can parents prepare their kids to go back to school? 

Packer: One of the most important things is to demonstrate excitement and a positive attitude. Also, establish a sleep and wake routine that correlates with the start time of school as it gets close to the first day of the new school year. 

AN: What helps a child be successful in the classroom? 

Packer: Help teach them basic organizational skills. For kindergarten, this would be making sure they have their backpack, lunch, water bottle. And not doing everything for them, but helping them understand that it is their responsibility to be prepared. My favorite kindergarten comment is “My mom forgot to put my folder in my backpack.” My response is “your mom has already been to kindergarten, now it is your turn and making sure you have your folder is your responsibility.” Obviously, they are five and I know they are going to forget things, but I think it is important to start those responsibilities when they are young. 

AN: How important is establishing a routine at home? 

Packer: Routines give children a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline. It can also help eliminate a potential power struggle. Establish a routine and try not to deviate from it. That can really throw kids off. 

AN: What’s the best way to prepare a child for the new responsibilities that come with a new school year?  

Packer: Be involved in your child’s education. Know what the expectations are for the upcoming grade level and add in some at home learning opportunities that will correlate with the curriculum. Do it in a fun way. Create an opportunity for discovery.  

AN: How can parents ensure their child will be successful with homework?  

Packer: For kindergarten, I believe strongly that children still need to be children. While homework reinforces and extends classroom learning, promotes responsibility and a good work ethic, it should not be done for more than 15 minutes in kindergarten.  

AN: If you could give parents of your new students one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Packer: Enjoy where your child is at this very moment. Time goes by so quickly and you don’t know what tomorrow holds. Be present and don’t blink. They will be heading to college before you know it.