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Is your family in the throws of the back-to-school frenzy?
In the blink of an eye, August has rolled back onto our calendars. For many families with children, August signals the start of another school year. One of the best ways to start the school year off successfully is to establish back to school routines for your children.
Why Are Back to School Routines Important For Children?
Research has demonstrated that one of the keys to school success is for children to maintain a daily routine.
Daily routines are not meant to be rigid and cumbersome. Rather, they provide a certain level of consistency. Eating, bathing, homework will all be daily activities, and weekly sports practice or clubs are added to the schedule as needed.
The world is a great big place for a child, and while the prospect of a new school year can be exciting, it can also be incredibly intimidating. Children need to know what to expect and what is expected of them, and routines can be reassuring.
This is especially the case now, when so much about life is uncertain, perplexing, or downright fear-inducing for a child. Some children are returning to the classroom, some are being taught at home or virtually, and some are doing a combination. These changes create an even greater need to provide consistent routines as a way to reassure your child that all will be well.
“Going back to school is an exciting time for kids but it’s also an uncertain time…It’s natural for your child to be a little worried.”Lynn, Ottowa Mommy Club
Lynn of Ottowa Mommy Club explains the ambivalence that children feel this time of year very clearly. She articulates specific actions parents can take to help their child, from easing back-to-school worries to preventing meltdowns. In every case, routines are a part of her recommendations.
Back to School Routines Provide Consistency, Control, And Confidence
Especially for early elementary children, all the various activities that must be done each school day morning can be overwhelming to remember, sequence, and complete in a set amount of time. Having a routine, particularly one they can visualize such as on a printed chart is key to completing morning activities.
Just as important is providing your child with a sense of control over himself and his environment.
A routine can help ease fears of the unknown, as it provides consistency and a sense of control for each child. This, in turn, boosts their confidence levels, as they have the certainty that they are really prepared for the school day and all that comes with it.
Routines are also proven to reduce crying, temper tantrums, and false “sick” days, which create added stress not just for your child, but to you as a parent with your own responsibilities and agendas.
Routines save time, reduce stress, and ultimately, benefit everyone.
A Back to School Routine To Fit Your Family’s Needs
Creating a routine that works for your child starts with you. There are a number of critical issues that you must evaluate first in order to create a routine that you and your child will really use.
“Start your day by implementing a simple kids morning routine for everyone in your house to follow.”Rachel, Smart Mom, Smart Ideas
Routines work best if you and your child follow them consistently.
In that light, Rachel of Smart Mom, Smart Ideas has created a list of Mom’s Morning Rules, which focus on actions that her children must follow…like no electronic devices in the mornings. These rules are designed to get everyone moving at the proper pace.
“Think about what tasks you could move around…there are many ways you can alter your routine to find a smoother option.”Lisa, A Day in Our Shoes
Lisa of A Day in Our Shoes addresses issues of priorities and flexibility in order for you to determine what really matters to you as a parent.
Once you better understand your lifestyle choices, you can then pass those expectations on to your child. For example, you may find it easier to prepare lunches at night rather than in the morning, but prefer the kids shower when they wake up. Work with your family’s lifestyle when creating routines.
How to Create an Effective Morning Routine
So exactly how do you go about creating and maintaining back to school routines that your child is comfortable with, capable of doing, and will follow consistently?
You could start by brainstorming all of the different activities your child will need to accomplish. Or you could save yourself a lot of time and headaches by gathering wisdom from routines that other people have developed.
“A morning routine should make your morning go more smoothly and with less stress so that you can get everyone out the door on time with the items they need.”Susan, Organized 31
Susan of Organized31 has one of the most thorough, complete posts ever on creating morning routines for children. She covers everything from alarm clocks to clothing to packing lunches and gives real consideration to each child’s age and capabilities. She also provides free printables for morning routines, several types of to-do lists, a homework checker, and a backpack list.
“The easiest way to make for a smooth morning routine is to make sure every item needed is placed in front of the back door, the night before!”Brittany, Our Home Made Easy
This excellent advice comes from Brittany of Our Home Made Easy. Her morning plan isn’t just for kids but includes adult tasks as well. She’s an advocate for working backward when developing a morning routine to make sure you include enough time in your schedule. She explains the importance of making dry runs and adjusting for schedule changes such as sports practice. Brittany also offers a free guide to getting out the door faster in the mornings.
Try These Back to School Systems
- For specific instructions on how to create dry erase morning routine charts, look no further than Jen at The Search for Imperfection. She provides free printable charts in a variety of colors along with her detailed instructions.
- Rochelle of Five Marigolds created an adorable morning routine checklist, ideal for a Kindergartener just starting school! It’s designed to be laminated so that your child can check off each activity as it is completed each day.
- Early readers will enjoy the printable checklist created by Drug Store Divas.
- Not into printed routines? Try the clever system developed by Stacie of SimplyStacie, which uses colorful post-it notes and basic storage items.
Back to School Routines Aren’t Just For Mornings
Schedules come into play after school and in the evenings as well, as a child learns to balance playtime with homework, chores, activities, dinner, and more.
In her blog Organizational Toast, Jill explains how she structures her afternoons and evenings with her children. Just as important, she explains how and why she developed her routine.
The Artsy Fartsy Mama, aka Lindsay, created this pretty framed after school checklist.
For older, more independent children, the Execukid planner from WunderMom is one your child can utilize throughout the school year. It is very reasonably priced, appealing to children, and covers their entire day.
Lisa at A Day in Our Shoes provides a treasure trove of free schedules (33 to be precise). They cover just about every age, activity, and situation a parent could ever need.
Getting Started With A New Routine
To make a routine successful, your child will need time to work with it and get comfortable completing all of the actions. She may need extra time and parental guidance at first. Soon she will work her way into using it confidently and at the speed you would like to see.
Practice, practice, practice!
Whatever system you intend to use, be sure to introduce it well in advance of the first day of school. That morning will provide more than enough challenges, nervousness, and surprises.
More Ways to Ease Into the School Year:
- 9 Ways to Get Your Children To Clean Up Their Toys
- How to Stay Organized With Checklists
- One Simple Tip to Make Laundry Easier
- Easy Tricks to Make Your House Feel Like Fall
Final Thoughts on Back to School Routines
Whether you’ve got a Kindergartner or an older child, routines are vital for easing into the new school year. Plan ahead to give your child the consistency, control, and confidence he needs to have his most successful year ever.
And if by chance your child’s school year has already begun, it’s not too late! If you work closely with your child, you can still create an effective routine for the school year. Just give it a try, and stick with it until it’s automatic.