Jul 28, 2014
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Getting Back to a School Year Routine

Mom's columnist looks at the importance of setting up routines early in the school year to help in organizing and having a successful year.

Getting Back to a School Year Routine

Well, it’s that time again:  leaves changing, cooler temperatures, and yes, we are back to school. Most children, after the delay in the start of the year, were ready to go back. Once the novelty of the new backpacks and supplies wears off, as they probably are by now, we parents are left with the issues of getting back into a routine. Along with that goes behavior changes and time management. A bit of advice: start early-the sooner the better as they say. Once you have the rules in place, it should help to make the school year run smoothly. 

Most parents assume the school day begins in the morning. I was guilty of that myself. My advice: start planning the night before for the next day. A big helper: lay out your child’s outfit for school the night before. If they are old enough, have them pick it out. Either way, you will save precious minutes the next morning. Also, make lunches at night, too. These small steps help in time management and may help to make yours and your child’s morning before school run smoother without rushing.

Before school, make sure your child gets up at a reasonable time. In most cases what works is getting up an hour before the bus comes. This should give ample time for getting ready. If the child is older, set an alarm clock. Make sure everyone has a moment to sit and have breakfast. The morning shouldn’t be rushed and full of craziness. This doesn’t get anyone out the door in a good mood. The worst thing you want to do is send your child off to school nervous or anxious first thing in the morning. I know we all have hurried mornings here and there, but by planning in advance, we can hopefully avoid these things this school year.

Coming home from school is also a time to think about, probably the most important. One thing my neighbor and I do on the first day of school is set a time and schedule for after school playing. Both have agreed that the cut off time for playing after school is 5:30 p.m. Since we both are saying it to our children, our girls know that one isn’t getting more than the other at home, it is the same and it seems to stick better. Also, set up a clear homework time and place.  Make homework time a time where there are no distractions for both you and your child

Also, keeping an organized house shows your child how to be organized. What better way for them to learn then by seeing and doing! Remember, we are our child’s teachers:  we can model what we want them to learn.  Set the example now and it will pay off later.

Sticking to a routine (i.e. Time to wake up, time to go to school, time to do homework, time to go to bed) is also important because it helps our children grow and stay organized. They know what to expect and it helps reduce anxiety. One thing I have done to help in my house is I have set up a master schedule. I just bought Velcro, note cards and a poster board. I thought about how their school day went and most classrooms go by a visual schedule. I thought, why not do the same thing at home?  On the note cards I wrote things like “Wake up, brush teeth, eat breakfast, make bed, get dressed, etc.” Basically, I thought of all the things my children had to do in the morning before school, the things after school, and the things at night. When they woke up there were the note cards, placed in order on the poster board. My girls then knew what to expect for the morning.

When they came home from school, the note cards were replaced with things such as “ put backpack on hook, have a snack, play, do homework.” Night time included things such as “have dinner, watch TV, play, brush teeth, go to bed.” Certain things like “wake up, go to the bus, or go to bed” had specific times on them so my daughters knew what time to expect these things to occur. It really helped all of us get back into a routine. It also was useful when they would ask me what to do.  I would simply say, “ Look at the chart, what should we be doing now?” 

After a summer full of sleeping in, vacations, and no set schedules, getting back to school is hard-not just for the kids but for us, too. By taking the time to plan, organize, and stick to a routine, we can make getting back to school run smoothly, and we may even make time for our morning cup of coffee!

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