Are you ready for school?

This summer has flown by and it is hard to believe that the beginning of school is almost upon us. While this time of year can be quite stressful, what with the mounds of paper that will begin to pour onto your kitchen counter and the busy schedule that will soon replace the laid back days of the summer, it does not have to be. With a conversation, some planning and a good night sleep, the first day of school can be a breeze.

Kids crave routine and structure. Sure, they complain and even test the boundaries, but in reality that is what makes for a safe and secure feeling. When you enforce the routines and boundaries you have set you send an unspoken message (these are the ones that hold the greatest impact) that you love and care about them enough to enforce what is best for them. With that being said, start now to establish what the morning, after-school ad evening routines might look like.

  • Morning – start from the time they must be out of the house to get to the bus stop and work backwards to determine what must be done (e.g., wake up, get dressed, wash face, brush teeth and hair, eat breakfast and check backpack) and what time you should begin each task.
  • After-school – have your child ask themselves (or maybe you ask them) how much homework do I have, how long do I think it will take and when should I start to work on it? These three simple questions are what starts kids thinking about time and how best to use it – the key to time management!
  • Evening – for younger kids, this should not include homework, but instead a time to relax, prepare their backpack for school the next day, possibly read books and get a good night’s sleep. For older kids, homework may unfortunately bleed into the evening, but make sure it is the easiest homework that you have. After a long day at school and possible after school activities, there isn’t much brain power left to work with. A good night’s sleep is vitally important for growing young adults, so make sure that there is a rule that includes when lights must be turned off!

Paper Management
Create a folder right now for all of the school papers, handbooks, class instructions, class and bell schedules and phone lists that may be needed during the school year. This should be kept close at hand so that you have it for quick reference. I recommend the SMEAD Travel Organizer for each student you have in school.

Make a commitment right now that you will not keep every piece of paper that your child brings home from school. Be discerning when deciding what to keep – only the best written story, the best piece of art or the award that really means something to your child. In my practice, I see attics filled with bins that store every scrap of paper a child ever completed – for what? They are rarely gone through. Don’t get me wrong, I have some wonderful things that I have kept from my kids, but right now it doesn’t even fill a 70Qt Sterilite bin. Instead I prefer to relish in each moment as it happens, celebrating and then storing the memory rather than the paper (or the pinecone turkey).

Schedule Management
Before the mad rush of the beginning of school, which is then followed by the mad rush of the Holidays, take a moment to get in the habit of “meeting” as a family to coordinate your schedules. I am a firm believer of a Family Calendar – a paper calendar that everyone can see and write on. It is such a simple way to know what everyone wants to do or has committed to do during any given week. With this calendar in place, take time during the week (I recommend Sunday evening) to talk as a family about what is on tap for the week to come.

Make the start of this school year the best it can be. A few simple routines, a plan for dealing with paper and a commitment to schedule management can make the difference! Give it a try…

For more ideas, check out our other articles “Getting Ready for Back-To-School” and “It’s s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year — Back to School!” located in the Advice Section of our website.

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