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Prepare Your Kids to Head Back to School

(Family Features) Whether your child's stance on heading back to school is eager and enthusiastic or falls a bit short of that level of excitement, by working together your family can gear up for a successful school year.

Transitioning back into school mode can feel overwhelming for many families. From building relationships with the educators at your child's school to ensuring all the right equipment and supplies are on-hand, you can help your child feel well-prepared when the school bell rings.

Talk with teachers. Many schools host open house nights, and these serve as opportunities for parents to meet new teachers and discuss any concerns. Particularly as kids advance in grades and begin rotating through teachers, these events provide a chance for parents to begin building a relationship with teachers that develops more naturally in younger grades, when kids are the same classroom most of the day. If your district doesn't host this type of event, reach out to the teachers to request time to meet one-on-one. Use the meeting to talk about your child's strengths and weaknesses, and to learn what to expect from the year ahead, including communication styles and frequency.

Gather school supplies. Sales start early on all the back-to-school necessities, so you can start bargain shopping early. As kids approach upper grade levels, it's also a good idea to start exploring long-term supplies they can use year after year, such as a graphing calculator. For example, Texas Instruments' TI-84 Plus CE can take students through all of the math and science courses they need to take in middle school, high school, college and into their careers. The calculator is 30% thinner and 30% lighter than previous models with six times the memory for storing vivid, full-color graphs, images and data. The lightweight, durable design comes in fun colors like Rose Curve Gold so students can crunch numbers in style. Learn more at education.ti.com/84ce.

Gear up for extracurricular activities. Learning during the academic year isn't limited to the classroom. Extracurricular activities allow kids to practice what they're learning in the classroom in practical ways while teaching valuable lessons about social interaction, teamwork and more. Often, these activities require special equipment such as uniforms or sporting equipment, so be sure to check into the requirements, including signups and tryout dates, and make note of deadlines and items you'll need to obtain. Also keep in mind that some extracurriculars begin before school formally resumes, so early is better when planning to sign your child up for any activities outside of the classroom.

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Research college prep information. For students in upper grade levels, it's never too early to begin planning toward college. Whether it's time to register for entrance exam testing or simply begin taking practice tests or attending coaching sessions, it's smart to start early and begin working toward those milestones. As your child completes registration and considers which classes to enroll in, encourage him or her to consider dual credit classes to get a head start on college curriculum. Also keep in mind that electives are a convenient way for students to explore topics and interests that may translate into future careers.

Take time to talk. Especially if your child is a worrier, he or she may benefit from having you open the door to a conversation to air any trepidation. A new school building, new teachers, new friends and new coursework can all be overwhelming. Even if your child seems to take it all in stride, encouraging him or her to share any thoughts or concerns sends an important message that you're interested in helping work through any issues.

Tackling the preparation for another busy school season as a family can help equip your child with all he or she needs to start the year on a path toward success.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (mother and daughter talking to teacher)

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