Lila and Elsie head to their first day at Hopi.


Carefree summer days have slipped away, and now it’s time for school. Here are a few tips to help your family ease into the busy academic schedule ahead.

For students

Young children may be having their very first school experience. Help them embrace their independence by letting them choose a lunchbox, water bottle and backpack. Have them pick out their first-day outfits, no matter how wild. No one will care if it’s a cape, pajamas and rain boots, and supportive preschools will celebrate the autonomy. 

Pack healthy lunches and snacks that they love. Enjoy a few lunch box lunches at home with your preschooler, so they can master opening compartments and food items and practice cleaning up. If supplies are requested, invite your child to choose the items. They’ll be proud to deliver them to their teacher, even if it’s just tape or tissues. 

Students of all ages can benefit from visiting the school before it opens, especially if the school is new to them. Drive-by to show them where they will be dropped off by car or bus. Point out the classroom, bathrooms, library and cafeteria and fun spaces like the playground, soccer fields and gardens. 

Middle and high school students may like to walk the campus with their schedules to locate their new classrooms. They could find their classrooms on an online school map if visiting campus isn’t feasible. 

The enduring teacher tip for school success? Sleep, sleep, sleep! It’s a must for all ages to be happy, ready to learn, and have energy throughout the day. Earlier evening routines lead to earlier bedtimes. Move up dinnertime, bath time and reading rituals. Make sure your home has clear cues that it’s time for sleep. Older students should turn off media, pack backpacks, and lay out their clothes at night to make the early mornings more manageable.

For parents

The start of school signals that it’s time to get involved. Arizona schools have countless needs, and participation is essential. Parent orientations offer opportunities to introduce yourself to each teacher, including those for music, band, PE and art. This way, children will observe that education is valued in your family. 

You may join site-based parent-teacher groups or performing arts and athletic booster clubs. Your child’s school may need tutors, lunchroom help and library assistance. Ask teachers what they need throughout the year. Elect local representatives committed to ensuring our schools thrive, or consider a run for office yourself. 

Finally, one of the best things you can do is to create a literacy-rich home. For young children, ensure writing materials are accessible for little hands and books are in reachable bins. Model reading for pleasure and purpose, not merely to boost reading skills. Research their many questions. “Oh, you want to know why the sky is blue? Let’s read about it together.”

— Nola Edge, PH.D. is the Director at The Hills School, 5524 E. Lafayette Blvd. For more: