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Back to school

Students hold hands as they walk to school with their new book bags in Miami. .

Lynne Sladky/AP

The first day of a new school year is like no other. Fear, trepidation, raised levels of anxiety…and that's just from parents.

This is a selection of some of the Globe's essential back-to-school advice from over the years to make the transition from summer to school easier for your kids.

Preparing for the first few days

For young children, getting up early might come naturally but chances are if they're a little older, this isn't the case. When that 6:30 a.m. alarm goes off, "It's wicked in my house," as one parent puts it.

READ MORE: Time to start waking the kids up early

A big decision many parents have to make is at what age they should let their child walk to and from school alone. There's no one size fits all and it comes down to two things: Knowing your kid and knowing your neighbourhood.

READ MORE: When is the right time to let your child walk to school alone?

When are kids old enough to get themselves to school?


One of the most common responses kids have to going to school for the first time or going back again is nervousness and anxiety. For younger children, experts suggest mapping out a routine, even taking the route to school a few times. And for teenagers, rule number one is: Don't let them skip school.


How to curb your child's back-to-school anxiety

"Mom, will my new teacher like me?"

The top three back-to-school stresses for teens

Five ways for students and teachers to reduce back-to-school stress


Eating can also have a huge effect on your child's well-being. Setting them up with the right foods, such as bananas, can go a long way to making them feel better.

READ MORE: As students head to school, here are some tips on what to eat – and avoid – to minimize stress

An inevitable consequence of going back to school is the viruses and bugs that go around come the middle of September. Here's how to prepare for them (hint: clean hands are key).

READ MORE: Germs and infections to prepare for as kids head back to school

How to be the best parent

Stephen Hurley and his son Luke, 5, learn about butterflies on an iPad in Milton, Sept. 5, 2012.

Stephen Hurley and his son Luke, 5, learn about butterflies on an iPad in Milton, Sept. 5, 2012.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

The story goes like this: The kids have taken over the candy shop, and modern parents, cowed by their own wish to please and appease their spoiled offspring, have allowed it to happen. We are, according to a small army of self-proclaimed experts, a generation of parental pushovers, so desperate for validation from our own "special snowflakes" that we allow them to rule the roost, thus destabilizing their very sense of self and sentencing them to a lifetime of anxiety and lack of impulse control.

One author says, "Over the past 30 years, a major shift has occurred in our culture: the transfer of authority from parents to children. … Children today often choose what's for supper; they choose which social media they will engage; they often choose their bedtime and sometimes even their school."

But what if that narrative is wrong?

READ MORE: Don't worry about what the 'experts' say: The kids are going to be all right

As a route to better grades, family conversations about learning trump parent-teacher interviews, chaperoning on field trips, and even helping with homework.

READ MORE: How to help your kids succeed in school? Talk, talk, talk

Want to set your kid up for success? Let them sleep. Sleep is brain fuel, especially when it comes to mastering complex problems. That and six other ways to build a better student.

READ MORE: How to build a better student

Tips for helping your kids make friends and avoid bullying this year


From the soccer field to the homework table, many parents, seeking to build self-esteem, are piling on the praise. With all the worry about rising anxiety and stress in kids, it's easy to see why so many resort to the loving "good try" lie.

But are all these compliments constructive? And do they really make kids happy?

READ MORE: Nice try! Why parents should stop telling loving lies

A new year also means a new teacher, and thus a new partner in making sure your kid ends up happy, healthy and at least sort of normal. Remember, education is a team sport.

READ MORE: How parents can get into a teacher's good books

For many parents, getting into the fall groove is a harsh reminder that 24 hours just isn't enough. One piece of advice for saving time: Don't start any activities in September. Wait until the hectic activity of the month is over before enrolling your child in guitar lessons.

READ MORE: 10 brilliant time-saving ideas for families

Experts see helicopter parenting as an epidemic, leading to a generation of entitled children who don't have the life skills to deal with adversity and a less-than-perfect lifestyle. But isn't some of it understandable?


Why parents are prone to hovering

Lessons for helicopter parents from a 71-year-old educator

You're not a helicopter parent just because you care

Helping your child deal with aggressive kids


Fueling your kids' appetites, the healthy way

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Studies demonstrate that eating certain breakfast foods can give kids an academic edge: increasing memory, improving test scores, lessening absenteeism, and heightening positive mood and energy levels.


The recipe for good grades? Breakfast

One more reason why your kids should eat breakfast

For teenagers, eating a breakfast high in protein can help overweight teens lose body fat, reduce hunger and eat fewer calories during the day.

READ MORE: High-protein breakfasts help teens manage weight

One flank steak, two quick meals just in time for back-to-school


Brain cells need twice as many calories as other cells in the body. Neurons, brain cells that communicate with one another, are constantly transmitting information throughout the body. A tired brain – or one that doesn't get proper nutrition – won't help kids (or adults) perform their best. Here are some brain-boosting tips for your kids' meals.

READ MORE: What your kids should eat to do well in school

Growing kids need to refuel every two to three hours to keep their blood sugar levels stable as sustained blood sugar means kids will have more energy to concentrate in class and participate in after school sports. Here are some healthy snacks to keep your kids on top of their game.

READ MORE: Kids' snacks that make the grade

Back-to-school recipes: One steak, two meals (and they couldn’t be easier)


Amid full-time work, getting kids to school and driving them to their extra-curricular activities, there's little time for parents to think about what to eat for dinner. If you're racking your brain for tasty but simple dinner ideas that will appease your rambunctious children, try these easy recipes.

READ MORE: Eight easy dinners for busy school nights

Take the stress out of dinner with this incredible one-pot pasta recipe


Two decades ago, bland was better: cold-cut sandwiches, soup from a can or a pack of Lunchables were benign and therefore acceptable. But with every passing year, the country is becoming more culturally diverse, bringing the lunchbox along with it.

READ MORE: No more white bread sandwiches: These days, our kids' lunches are a global buffet

The infamous freshman 15 hits many college and university-bound students. Staving it off can be a battle, one that involves (gasp) drinking less coffee.

READ MORE: The friend no university student wants to make: The freshman 15

How students can avoid gaining the dreaded Freshman 15


Keep your spending — and your debt — down


Six hundred dollars per child on back-to-school? That seems steep. One piece of advice: Make the second-hand economy your first economy.

READ MORE: How to curb your back-to-school spending this year

Back-to-school season is here but you don’t have to blow the bank


Carrick Talks Money: How can parents push back against big school supply bills?


The average Canadian expects to spend several hundred dollars per school-aged child, but how much is too much to spend on clothing? One adviser says: "We try and tell the kids to get a really nice pair of sneakers because you're in them all day. Get a nice backpack if you're in middle school. Get a really nice pair of jeans, but maybe you can compromise and get jeans at Winners that are still designer for $150 or $100. Gone are the days when the teens are wearing jeans from your basic stores."

READ MORE: When to buy your kids a $250 pair of jeans

Carrick Talks Money: Where can I find cool clothes for kids on the cheap?


The cost of university or college, even for children who stay in town, is too expensive to be covered by typical part-time and summer jobs. Student loans can make up the difference, but heavy reliance on them can result in debt that delay financial independence after graduation. Rob Carrick details four strategies to save money for your child's education.

READ MORE: Smart ways to save up for your child's postsecondary education

Investment checkup: 5 things to consider as your kids go back to school


For students heading off to college or university, we've got a hub where we answer your questions, from debt to investing to the job hunt.

READ MORE: The Globe's money tips for college and university students

The truth is, over one half of students will graduate from postsecondary school with debt – primarily from financing their education. These are some tips to help keep it under control.

READ MORE: Six tips that can help you minimize your student debt

Carrick Talks Money: How can parents save on phones and computers for their kids?


One way to keep your debt load down: apply for all the scholarships you can find.

READ MORE: 5 tips for scoring scholarships

And, finally, don't let your savings sit in a bank account untouched. Globe columnist Rob Carrick gives his take on investing for Generation Y.

READ MORE: Rob Carrick's ultimate investing guide for Gen Y

Compiled by Iain Boekhoff