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Saint Leo University Psychology Professor Offers Parents Useful Back-to-School Tips

’Twas the Night Before the First Day of School — Dr. Tammy Zacchilli, who teaches, “Psychology of Parenting,” Gives Advice For the Beginning of a New School Year

Tags: College of Arts Sciences and Allied Services Faculty Parenting Psychology Social Sciences Thought Leadership Back-to-school
31 July 2023 - By University Communications

By Dr. Tammy Zacchilli

As summer break comes to an end, parents, teachers, and children are trying to prepare for a new school year. 


Schools are sending out school supply lists and important dates while parents are checking the lists to ensure they kids are ready for the first day of school. 

Kids may be excited for a new year, but some may also be anxious especially if they are starting at a new school or moving from elementary to middle school or middle school to high school. Even your college-aged kids might need some guidance and support as they prepare for the first day. My kids will be starting fifth grade, eighth grade, and college this year. Despite the age differences, there are some general things that we can do to help our children prepare for the first day. 

Here are a few tips to help parents and kids get ready for the first day of the new school year.

1.         Be prepared.  Check those school supply lists and be sure that your children have everything they need for the first day of school. If a child feels unprepared, it can affect their entire day. Some schools may charge a fee so that they can purchase the items for the class. Other schools may offer a list based on grade levels. High school and college-aged students may have to wait until the first week of school to determine which items they will need for classes. 

2.         Set a routine. Chances are the kids have been staying up later at night and getting up later each morning. It can be helpful to start going to bed earlier each night leading up to the first day. You might also want to adjust their screen time especially if they have been spending a lot of time online during the summer. 


3.         Meet the teachers and tour the school. Most schools offer the opportunity for students to meet their teachers before the first day of school. Having a chance to meet the teachers before the first day can ease some of the anxiety that kids might experience regarding the first day. It can also allow parents time to ask questions and provide information about their children. Taking a tour of the school can be beneficial for students of all ages including college students. Becoming familiar with the school setting can make the first day less stressful. 

4.         Listen.  Encourage your children to ask questions about the new school year and listen if they share concerns that they have about starting the new year. Be supportive. If your child is fearful, consider purchasing books about the first day of school to read with them. If your child is older, sometimes just listening and showing support can ease some of their anxiety about the first day.

I hope everyone has an amazing first day of school and a great school year!

Dr. Tammy Lowery Zacchilli is a professor of psychology at Saint Leo University and teaches the popular course, Psychology of Parenting. She is the Southeastern Regional Vice President of Psi Chi and associate editor of the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research. Zacchilli earned her bachelor’s degree from Kennesaw State University; her master’s from Augusta State University; and her PhD from Texas Tech.