I can't believe that the kids go back to school next week.

While waiting in line at WalMart this afternoon, I noticed several people with their shopping carts loaded with uniform clothing, binders, crayons, markers, organizers, colorful book covers, snazzy lunch bags, snacks and well, just everything, and I'm standing there thinking to myself "Well I think I have some leftover pens, pencils and paper from last year."

Summer seems to have just zoomed by me and the commencement of the new school year has caught me quite off guard and quite unprepared.

In any event, I have been making it a point to talk to kids whenever I see them to ask them if they are excited for school to start up again.

Surprisingly, most of them have given me a rather enthusiastic "YES!"

The biggest reason is of course to be able to see all their friends again.

Those who are involved in band or athletics are anxious to get back onto the field or the court.

Ahhh, the joys of Friday night football.

Some kids even told me that they like learning and enjoy the challenge that class work and homework bring to them.

I like that.

Unfortunately, some children dread going back to school.

Learning and the schoolwork associated with it doesn't come easy for everyone.

It often means feeling "stupid" and can mean ridicule from their classmates and parents as well.

It becomes a constant uphill battle in which they never seem to make any ground.

For others it can mean yet another year of taunting and teasing from bullies of all ages.

Kids who enjoy extracurricular activities such as athletics often have to endure hostile glares and vicious tirades from perfection-demanding, power-tripping coaches and parents who easily forget that they are still kids and not professional athletes.

Parents also have varying emotions when it comes to back-to-school time.

Some are counting down the days so that they can gain a little bit of their "me time" back and catch up on the things that fell by the wayside while all of the kids were home.

Some feel a sense of loss at the thought of no longer being able to spend their days with their children.

Some are already stressing over the academic struggles they are certain they will face along with the battles over getting them out of bed and out the door on time, and getting them to get their homework completed at night.

Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, there are some things that parents and grandparents can do to help your kids have a more positive school experience this year:

Ÿ Let them know that it is a new year and that they have a fresh start. I vaguely remember a scene from a movie, ("Dangerous Minds" perhaps?) where the teacher told the class that as of that very first day, every single one of them was starting off with an "A" and it was up to them to keep it. It also means the chance to make new friends and try new things.

Ÿ Be involved. From day one look at their books and assignments and be sure that they are completing tasks on time. Watch for any sign that they may be struggling and address it immediately. If you can't help them, find someone who can. Let them know that it is a smart thing to ask questions if they don't understand. Be present for "Meet the Teachers" night and develop a good rapport and an open line of communication with your child's teachers and principal.

Ÿ Teach them to respect and listen to their teachers. Nuff said.

Ÿ Encourage them to take good notes and review each night. Reviewing each night means not having to cram the night before a test.

Ÿ Teach them how to study and provide a quiet and organized space for them to do so.

Ÿ Be careful to not overload them with extracurricular activities. This cannot only cause undue stress on a child but can also take away from their ability to successfully meet their academic goals.

Ÿ Don't compare them to their siblings or other children. Just because Susie excelled in math and English, doesn't mean that Johnny will do the same. Each child has their individual strengths and weaknesses. Learn them.

Ÿ Encourage them to always do their best and emphasize the value of working hard. Each child is different and what motivates one may not be the most effective method of motivating another. Learn what works best for your child. Remember to celebrate even the smallest victory.

Ÿ Hug them and tell them that you love them. Every. Single. Day.