When the leaves begin to rustle and the air flutters with increasingly crisp breezes, summer is all but over. That means it's time for the kids to spend less time outdoors soaking up sun and more time at school studying. Yet this doesn't have to be a sorrowful season - just think of all the pumpkin spiced treats! - and going back to school can actually be a time for recommitment and reinforcing certain behaviors. Just don't forget those oh-so comfortable sweaters.

"Back-to-school can be a time for recommitment."

Prepare for the morning routine The hardest part of going back to school is acclimating to the routine. Most kids have spent the summer sleeping till noon, running around aimlessly and eating as they see fit. So, ease them back into the swing of things by doing a dry run. A week or so before school begins, choose a couple days where everyone in the family practices getting up on time, bathing, dressing and eating a healthy breakfast. You can even have everyone pack an actual bag or briefcase. The children may just go back to sleep after this practice session, but they'll be far better equipped when the big day actually comes.

Back-to-school time is a great way to return to proper habits.Back-to-school time is a great way to return to proper habits.

Tour the school As an extension of the at-home practice run, it's always a good idea to put together a similar activity in the school itself. If your child's school happens to hold an open house, this is a perfect time to meet the teachers and other staff, getting a jump on building those important relations. If nothing else, simply driving your child to school and back offers the chance to go over the route itself and any safety concerns you might have. Going on a tour of the school before the academic year begins is also a great opportunity to go over any anxieties your children might feel, helping to ease their minds as they prepare to return once again to hard work. Making back-to-school shopping fun Being prepared for the new school year is important, and that means having the right supplies. Yet buying pens and notebooks is often as fun as watching paint dry. To liven this up, make it into a game or activity. For instance, turn the list of supplies into a kind of scavenger hunt, one that maybe pits the children against the adults. Or, if the children are a little younger, use flash cards to help them identify items or their proper spelling. Finally, give your child some power, like choosing the specific shoes they wear or style of backpack. This will make them feel more engaged and interested in their education. Make a family calendar Each school year, there's a plethora of activities for students and parents alike. PTA meetings, soccer games, the science fair and spelling bee are just the very tip of the iceberg. Before school begins, create a calendar the whole family can use that contains each of the year's events and outings. This ensures everyone is aware of anything ahead of time and can prepare accordingly. Additionally, it lets parents have a resource to see when they might need time off or what days to schedule a doctor's appointment. These calendars are also a great way to make certain requests, like various chores.