Each September marks the beginning of a new school year. The transition from care-free summer routines to the grind of school can be challenging for children and parents. From adjusting sleep schedules to outlining homework routines, it can be daunting for the entire family. Routine and organization can ease this transition to make daily life a bit more manageable.
Step 1: Prepare the night before. This is often easier said than done; however, the few minutes it saves in the morning can make all the difference. Pack lunches and backpacks the night before to make the morning routine less chaotic. This will cut down on forgotten homework and books needed for school and reduce tardiness. No matter how old the child, checking backpacks at the end of each school day is essential in keeping yourself in the loop. This also opens communication between parents and children regarding schoolwork and expectations. Often times those notices for parent/teacher conferences are crumpled at the bottom of your child’s book bag.
Step 2: Routine, routine, routine! Everyone functions better when expectations are clear and time is set aside for tasks. Whether that includes bath, homework, or leisure time, knowing what is expected and what comes next teaches time management, responsibility and accountability. Post morning and evening routines in common areas to remind children what’s expected. This minimizes arguments and procrastination. Don’t forget to check their agenda daily and if they don’t have one, get one!
Step 3: Organization. Being organized saves time and frustration. Simple things can help your child be a better student and be more responsible. Along with having a homework routine, an identified homework area should be assigned. Preferably in a common area so the child can be monitored and assistance can be easily administered when needed. The kitchen table is a great spot. Binders with color coded folders for each subject help children organize handouts and homework. If red is for math, coordinate with a red notebook to keep things consistent. The use of a daily agenda to keep track of homework assignments, projects, tests, and quizzes is essential.
Step 4: Weekly Cleanouts. Every week, set aside time to sit with your child and clean out folders and book bags of corrected papers and unneeded clutter. This helps minimize confusion and keeps on top of organization. Too many papers can be overwhelming when trying to prioritize importance. Also, encourage your child to clean out desks and lockers weekly to maintain organization in the school setting.
Step 5: Preview. Previewing transitions, schedules and academics can be a valuable tool in managing a child’s reaction to new things. Look ahead in text books to get a glimpse of what comes next, discuss the week's activities Sunday evening and discuss any changes to the schedule that may be coming up. Anything to give a clue as to what lies ahead minimizes anxiety and allows children to be prepared and feel a sense of control.
Share your back to school tips! It’s never too late to start following these 5 simple steps.