School Year Game Plan

The school year can run smoothly with the help of some simple strategies.

Routines

When you think about the start of another school year, do frantic mornings come to mind? Can you hear it already?

"Where's my backpack."
"Where are my soccer shoes?"
"I don't want that for lunch."
"I missed the bus."

The start of the school year (or the rest of the year for that matter) doesn't have to be about frantic mornings.
In fact, the school year can run smoothly (most days anyway) with the help of some simple strategies.

Routines

It all starts with routines. Here are a few ideas to help eliminate the daily chaos:

  • Establish a routine for what needs to happen in the morning before school and another one for bedtime.
  • Create a routine for what your children should do with their backpacks, homework, papers that need a signature, leftover lunches, instruments, library books, sports equipment, and so on.
  • Ensure that each child has a dedicated location for each of the previously mentioned items. Having a routine without a place to store these items will lead to them dropping things by the door or leaving a trail through the house.
  • Involve your children when creating the routines, so they believe they had a say and can manage what has been agreed upon.
  • Post routines in visible locations, perhaps by the door they use when leaving the house. Posting them on the back of their bedroom doors also is helpful. For children who are just starting to read, you can create lists with pictures or clip art.
  • Have an established routine for what activities take place after school. Have a healthy snack ready. Maybe the routine in your house is no Wii, computer games, or TV until homework and music practice is done -- or perhaps they get a set amount of unwind time to play and then do homework.

Here are some routines specifically to make mornings go better:

  • Establish a lunch-making station with bags, napkins, and plastic ware. This could be a dedicated drawer or a basket that sits on a pantry shelf.
  • Prep lunches the night before.
  • For rushed days, have a basket of grab-and-go items for lunches, such as granola bars and crackers.
  • Prep clothes the night before or on Sunday for the entire week. A hanging sweater bag works well to store a weeks' worth of clothes.

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