It’s that time of year again! Millions of parents will be getting their children prepared for the first day of school.

I have one child heading off to college this September and one heading off to kindergarten. Over the years I learned so many things. One of the biggest and most important things I have learned is to make the first day of school special. It makes a huge difference in your child’s life. These are the ABCs of going back to school that I used for many years:

Admire your child’s strengths. Tell him how well he will do in school because he already knows how to color, paint and sing the ABCs.

Bond with your child. Let him know you are in this education thing together and he’s not alone.

Care: Put extra special care in everything you do on the first day of school, right down to standing in front of a mirror with him to admire how tall he is!

Devote your time. Try and take time off from work and spend the morning with the new student.

Enjoy every minute of it! You only get one of these first days every year, so enjoy all the attention you give your child!

Flatter your child after he dresses in his new school clothes. Makes sure he knows how great he looks.

Glow: Tell your child he is your sunshine. Your child will smile from ear to ear just knowing you are making this time for him special.

Hug often during the prep time.

Include: Get your child involved in making his lunch. Ask questions and see what he would like for lunch. This will also relax him. Allow him to pick out the outfit he wants to wear.

Joy: Show him a lot of joy. Tell him you expect to get a blow-by-blow discussion when he gets home. Tell him you want to know every detail.

Know he’s anxious, and let him know it’s normal to feel the way he’s feeling. Everyone gets a little nervous when they start something new.

Love: Say the words, “I love you!”

Memory: Talk about your childhood memories of your first day of school; make your child realize he isn’t alone. In my case, I still have a fairly fresh memory of when my older child went to kindergarten.

Need: Hold your kindergartner’s hand. Take him to school the first day, or ride the bus with him.

Open: Be open for your child to voice his fears and concerns. Allow him to say he’s scared or nervous.

Put a smile on your face. I know you are just as nervous as he is. It’s not everyday we send our baby off to fend for himself, but do this for him. He will smile too!

Quality: This is quality time your child will cherish and never forget. My older son still reminds me of his first day of kindergarten! After all these years, he didn’t forget!

Respect: Every single morning of my older child’s school days, I sent him off with what became a ritual: “Be good to your friends and your teachers and learn lots. Have a great day, and remember I love you!”

Special: Make the first day of school special by either sitting down and having a bowl of cereal with him or taking him out to breakfast.

Talk to his teacher. Introduce your child to his teacher; let them get acquainted as you leave. Before school started, I took my son to the school to walk around and even look in the kindergarten room.

Use positive words when referring to school, such as fun and learning.

Victory: When you drop you child off at school, give him the thumbs up, and make sure he knows he’ll be just fine.

Winner: Make comments like, “I know you are going to love school!”

XOXO: Put one in his lunch! Put a sticky note on his sandwich with some kisses and hugs on it! Kids love that! I put a lipstick kiss on my son’s hand and he was able to look at it while he was away.

You are your child’s biggest cheerleader!

Zap the back-to-school jitters— with your love, support and attention!

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