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Easing into school mode

The first day of school is just around the corner, and it's time to start preparing - your mind, your calendar and your kids' closets, which cry out for new clothes and supplies.

Here are some things you should start thinking about now.

How can I get my child mentally prepared to go back to school?


• Use our Shopping forum to share great deals you find on back-to-school supplies - and to ask other moms about items you're looking for.

• Trade your gently used school uniforms in the MomsMiami Market.
  • Establish a routine that you follow for both summer and school days to help ease the transition back to the classroom, said Michelle Goldberg, a Cooper City guidance counselor and mom of four. "Even if you keep a few things - like family dinner time, shower time or choosing clothes the night before" the same, it will help smooth the transition, she said.
  • Remind kids about the good friends and favorite teachers they will see again to generate excitement, Goldberg said.

  • Re-establish school bedtimes gradually, said Amy Padolf, director of education at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables. Get kids back into a school sleep schedule by gradually setting bedtimes a few minutes earlier each day.
  • Spark school spirit with a few new school supplies. It gives kids a fresh new look at the school year, she said. "In my house, the most important way we get back into the mindset is by talking about school," Padolf said. "It can give kids an opportunity to get excited, express fears and mentally prepare. I find that it makes the first day less stressful."
How can I save money during the back-to-school buying season?

  • Start early, because office supply stores are already starting 1¢ school supplies, said Mary Pat Pankoke of, based in Parkland. Shop early in the week, before supplies of super deals run out.
  • Save time, money and gas by taking advantage of price matching offered by Target and Walmart. "Combine with coupons to get even better deals," she said. Using both a store coupon and a manufacturers’ coupon for an item can often make it free, Pankoke says.
  • Look for offers to recycle printer cartridges to get reward money at office supply stores, and use pharmacy reward programs like Register Rewards (Walgreens) and Extra Care Bucks (CVS) to buy school supplies.
  • Look for rebate deals on full-priced items. "Last year, one of the office supply stores offered a full rebate (in the form of store rewards) for the purchase price of a backpack up to $80," Pankoke says.
What’s the best way to go "green" for back to school?

Being green doesn't necessarily mean buying eco-friendly products, says

founder Rebecca Carter. Reuse what you can. Go through your supplies at home before hitting the store and only buy what you need.

"When you do buy things, do think about their environmental impact," Carter said. "Look at where products were made, the product packaging, the materials it is made of, and if it can be recycled or repurposed when you are done with it."