Daily trips to the pool. Ice cream for every meal. Pixar movie marathons on a Tuesday. Summer has been good to you and the kiddos, but things are about to get different. Like homework-in-pre-K different. Here are seven ways to squash back-to-school stress before it starts.

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1. Set up a work station.
Whether it’s the dining room table or the desk in their room, designate an organized, clutter-free space where homework happens at the same time each day. Think Marie Kondo, juniors edition: If something in the area is not useful, clear it out.  

2. Do dry runs.
Practice getting ready for school on time and walking to the bus stop or driving across town to know exactly how long it will take. Repeat this routine with your kids in the days leading up to the big one so there are less first-day jitters (or tardies).

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3. Talk through their schedules.
Or better yet, print out a visual calendar and go over how their day will unfold. Be sure to throw in after-school activities, too, like “free time” and “doing homework.” The more ownership kids feel over their routine, the easier it will be for them to execute it.

4. Introduce them to their teacher.
If orientation is not formally set up, approach your school about scheduling a brief, informal meet-and-greet for your child and their teacher a few days before the first bell rings. At least that’s one anxiety out of the way.

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5. Set up an advance playdate with a classmate.
Seeing a second friendly face in homeroom? Instant zen.  

6. Listen to their feelings.
Invite your kiddo to vent about their hopes and anxieties surrounding the start of school. The best way to conquer fear is to name it. Or as inspirational Pinterest quotes might say: “It’s OK to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.”

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7. Enjoy your kids.
While we stress over filling the remaining days of summer with baking camp and soccer clinics, leave time for just hanging out and being together. Run through a sprinkler, mess up the kitchen, have a pajama day—and take pictures. Busy schedules will be here soon enough.

RELATED: 6 Brilliant Ways to Get Your Kids Out the Door Faster

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