Sending your child off to school is exciting and scary. It is the start of a new phase in his life and it can be stressful for the entire family. Your child is growing up and he needs different support than he did when he was a baby and completely dependent on you. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare your child for school can make the transition easier for you and your child.

What do you need to know before sending your child to school?

Children might need medical attention or a medical release from a doctor before starting school. Some schools require children to visit a doctor before attending school and expect parents to provide written proof of this visit before the school year begins.

In some cases, this visit might require vaccinations for certain diseases. If you have a religious or moral obligation to vaccinations, learn the appropriate alternative. Make sure these responsibilities are handled well in advance of the school year, so you can avoid last minute stress.

Children should be encouraged to ask questions and speak to their teachers when necessary. Make sure your child understands how important it is to overcome shyness and alert his teacher to important circumstances. Young children need to be reminded to ask to use the bathroom before an accident happens.

They also need to understand it is OK to report to a teacher if there is a problem with schoolwork or a classmate. You do not want to encourage your child to be a tattle-tale, but kids need to know when to speak up and alert an adult to an issue.

Children need certain school supplies, some of which might be shared with classmates. Most schools ask that children obtain at least some supplies to help with their education. In some cases, these supplies are considered community property and will be shared among students throughout the school year.

Find out in advance what supplies are needed, so your child is prepared for his first day of school. Arriving without any supplies when the other children are prepared can be an embarrassing experience for a child.

Children need to understand stranger danger and how to travel to and from school safely. No matter how your child gets to and from school, he will likely spend a part of this time away from your supervision. He must understand how to take care of himself when traveling without a parent.

Teachers and bus drivers have large groups to look after, so they rely on the children to alert them to a dangerous situation. In some cases, your child might travel a part of the commute to school completely alone. Even if you live in a safe area and you feel confident your child will face no danger, be sure he understands how to conduct himself if a problem arises.

Review stranger danger information on a regular basis and encourage him to be aware of his surroundings at all times.

Children should be encouraged to socialize, but not forced into activities or situations that make them uncomfortable. School is more than just book learning for kids. It is an opportunity to spend time with their peers and build social relationships.

Sometimes it takes children awhile to get comfortable in these situations. It is important your child make connections and not be anti-social, but do not be alarmed if your child is shy or slow to connect with others.

Find a balance between pushing your child into social situations and ignoring his anti-social behavior. Sometimes kids just need a little reassurance that it is OK to make friends and reach out to others.