In just a couple short weeks the kids will be back in school – parents, rejoice! Here are a few tips to get your family ready for those wonderful days of learning and fun.

Stock up on school supplies. This is one thing you don’t want to leave until the last minute. Your child’s school will have a published list of exactly what they’ll need, so be sure to bring it to the store (although some local stores will have the lists there for you). Give yourself plenty of time in case particular items are sold out and you need to stop at other locations.

Tax free weekend is August 11-13 this year, so plan to head out early in the day to beat the crowds while you save the eight percent. Clothes, backpacks and shoes qualify for this exemption. Many stores also offer additional discounts this weekend so be on the lookout for good deals.

Help your kids get off on the right foot by preparing them in advance for earlier bedtimes and morning routines. If you start now, you can gradually back up bedtime in 15 minute increments and your kids might not even notice. A well-rested child is ready to learn! Practice morning routines and figure out when the best time to make lunches and pack backpacks will be. Ease the morning rush by lying clothes out and setting up breakfast dishes the night before.

Figure out the route your child will take to get to school. Locate the bus stop and time how long it takes to get there from your front door. If you’ll be walking or biking, test out the route and one alternative and time each. Same goes for car riders, but here you’ll also need to account for traffic. Keep in mind that the first week or two will take longer, then things will settle out. Talk with your child about how he/she will get home after school and where you will meet.

This is always a good time to talk about stranger danger and other safety issues, like crossing the street, wearing bike helmets and knowing emergency contact information. Even kindergarteners can memorize your cell phone number so start practicing now. Put a plan in place for what to do in case of bad weather or other unexpected events.

By beginning preparations now, you’ll be able to start the school year off with less stress and more smiles.