While you might be excited to have the house all to yourself again, the twilight days of summer can be stressful and nerve-wracking for children. It’s hard to trade in swimsuits and ice cream for pencil cases and lunch trays, especially if a child’s overarching mindset on school is a negative one. Use these tips to promote positivity about going back to school.

When School Supply Shopping: Ask What the Child Wants

From gym sneakers to backpacks, mechanical pencils to sequined notebooks, countless school supply products line the shelves. When it comes time to head to the local mall for some good, old-fashioned back-to-school shopping, let your child pick out the items from their list. If spending a few extra dollars on fun notebooks, folders, and pencils makes your child happy, that can translate to positivity in the classroom and while doing homework. Involve your child in the shopping process to get them invested!

When Packing the Night Before: Slip in Pieces of Home

Young children in particular often experience reluctance to leave home. And, if your child is a fresh-faced elementary schooler, they’ll be away from the nest for longer than they’re used to. For any of your homebodies and ankle-biters, try and put some small mementos in their school bags. Examples include a stuffed animal, favorite snack, or other trinkets. Avoid anything expensive, distracting, or that would bring a great deal of stress were it to be lost. In general, these pieces of home will help your child feel less anxious about the idea of being away.

When Preparing Lunches: Pack Some Comfort Foods

Turn an ordinary lunch period into something special for your kids. At the start of the school year, add the occasional sweet treat into your kids’ lunchboxes. Maybe you’ll bake some tasty chocolate chip cookies, prepare make-your-own pizzas, or slice some apples in a container with caramel sauce. Whatever the case, a taste of home can mean the world to your children, especially if school lunches on certain days look less-than-appetizing. Even if your kids are buying lunch, slip a favorite treat into their backpack!

When Helping With Homework: Be Patient & Praise Efforts

It may not be calculus or poetry explication, but elementary school homework can be pretty overwhelming for young kids. Whether learning multiplication tables or attempting a close-read of “The Three Little Pigs,” children need reassurance. If your child struggles with some of their homework lessons, stay patient and try explaining concepts in different ways. Even if your child doesn’t ace every question, praise them for their effort. Associating homework with positive feelings might not seem possible for kids, but they might be a bit more willing to sit down with their workbooks if they have a support system standing by.