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Parent to Parent: Getting Back Into the Back-to-School Routine

Published on: August 20, 2012

If you’re like most parents, you’re busy getting your kids ready for the new school year. That means shopping, arranging car pools and just getting organized. Linda Morgan, editor of ParentMap and author of "Beyond Smart," has ideas about getting your kids set for that first day.


It can be hard for some kids. And it starts with the new sleep schedule. Who can fall asleep when it’s still light out? The sudden out-the-door-by-8 program can come as a shock to parents and kids who haven’t spent time preparing for it.

That’s why getting kids on a sleep schedule is so important. Start getting into an earlier bedtime schedule about a week or two before school begins.

The first day of school can have a large impact on your child’s emotional state. They might have anxiety about navigating the hallways, making new friends or leaving you for the first time. Have discussions with your child about the first day of school and what to expect.

Think about your kids’ ages – and what kinds of things will be new to them. The littlest kids need to know how to do things like line up, put their coat away, sit in a circle, and raise their hands. Elementary age kids should know what they’re going to wear the next day, and understand the morning, before-school routine.

Middle-schoolers need to focus on organizational skills. The middle school child should choose a planner of some kind, understand how to use it and learn to write down assignments.

Parents sometimes make the mistake of backing away from their high school age kids. That’s a mistake. This isn’t the time to become uninvolved. Know who they have for teachers and check in to see what they’re doing. Make sure they bring their assignments home – and are turning them in.

Before school starts, spend a day organizing your child’s storage. Help your kids let go of old toys and outdated interests. Give away old clothes and shoes that don’t fit. Do it “with” your kids and not “for” them.

Get that schedule going. Make sure homework, supplies, projects, and backpacks are by the door or in car the night before. Make lunches in the evening or put lunch money in backpacks. Prep some breakfast foods the night before.

Establish a designated time and area for doing homework.  Check your child’s planner or his online school site to see what homework has been assigned. Talk to them about study time rules. At this age, especially, there should not be TV.

Figure out which activities mean the most to your kids and to your family – and decide which ones you can give up to include unstructured family time – and just plain down time for the kids. The last thing you want is a child who’s already stressed out at the start of the school year.

Sleepy child

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