Back to School Routines & Procedures - <i>How to help your kids settle into the new school year</i>
Summer is ending and the school year is ramping up, I can’t believe it! So I’ve brought on one of my favorite elementary school teacher’s, Jenny Morgan, to give us mommas some tips on routines that work for us and our kids. Take notes!
Oh, my goodness - it happened! Summer came and went by us so quickly! Those long days of rest and relaxation are behind us and now we have early morning school schedules, homework, and extracurricular activities. Settling into a back-to-school routine can be challenging, so here are a few helpful ideas for a smooth and peaceful transition.
1. Activate RESPONSIBILITY
Here is my personal favorite tip for the younger kids: by engaging them in setting up a daily routine, you are activating their own sense of personal responsibility. If you show them how to get ready for school, pack and unpack their backpacks, make their lunch, etc., they will then be able to do it themselves! We do this in Kindergarten! Trust me - if we teachers can teach 5 year olds to do their daily routine in the classroom, you can do the same at home and regain some personal time.
Lay out school clothes, pack lunches and backpacks the night before. Prepare for the day ahead with your children so that they know exactly what they need to do. Then, they can hop out of bed in the morning, get themselves ready, eat breakfast, grab their lunch and backpack and they are ready to go! Your mornings will go more smoothly! Encourage them to know that it's "their responsibility" to get ready for the next day, but that you are here for them if/when/however they need your help.
Parents - we teachers love that you want to help your kids and do a LOT for them, but let them try to do it by themselves.
It will take some time for it all to click, but as you supervise, encourage them along the way. You will be so surprised to see how well they can keep themselves organized! Show them HOW to do it, and then let them do it! Once they know how to do it and you have observed their steady progress, let them be in charge. You are building their self-confidence by setting them up for success. Once they know they CAN do it, they truly feel empowered! If they forget something, it becomes a teachable moment. Let them know that it's OK to make a mistake! We ALL make them!
2. CHECKLIST / CHORE CHART
Quite simply, this goes right along with establishing a sense of personal responsibility. If your child needs clear direction, create a daily routine checklist and they can go line by line to see what they need to do. Younger kids can look at a picture chart! Brush teeth? Check. Get dressed? Check. Comb hair? Check. Let them do the checklist and establish their own understanding of what they are expected to do. Older kids can incorporate a daily checklist in an academic planner or personal journal. Their responsibilities at home can connect to their responsibilities at school. Communicate with your child's teacher to understand grade level expectations so that you can be fully supportive. Create a partnership with their teachers to help with personal responsibility and accountability.
Wondering what chores your kids can do? Motherly provides an outstanding list of age appropriate responsibilities for kids, ages 2-15.
Lakeshore Learning: Good For Me Reward Kit
Teachers Pay Teachers: Visual Schedule/Routine/Chore Chart for Young Children
Erin Condren: Academic Planner
Target: Academic Planner
Chore charts are also an amazing way to keep you kids engaged in personal responsibility. However, some parents feel that chore charts are a nuisance and become more of a chore for THEM. Do what works best for you!
If the thought of a chore chart gives you a headache, you can implement a reward system for good behavior. Sticker charts are fun and interactive! Kids can earn a reward based on the number of stickers earned. Determine what works best for you and your family! You can even talk to your child's teacher and let them know that you are implementing this system at home and that you'd like updates on their behavior at school. That way, your child knows that their behavior at school is just as important as their behavior at home.
3. EARLY BED TIME
A hot topic of discussion during back-to-school time is making sure that your kids are getting enough sleep- at any age! Implementing a consistent and early bed time is a priority. Trust me - the first few days back-to-school are long and tiring. Your kids need their energy to sustain them throughout the days and weeks ahead. Allowing your kids to stay up past their bedtime during school nights presents tough mornings, and in some cases, behavioral challenges throughout the school day.
If your child is having trouble falling asleep, reading is a great way to get them to quiet their bodies. They can either read independently, or you can read with them. If you don't have a favorite book on hand, Storyline Online is a children's literacy website and is an excellent resource for children's books, read by celebrated actors. We play it during Kindergarten rest time, and our kids really love it!
If you incorporate these ideas with a whole lot of patience, encouragement and support, your kids will be ready for back-to-school in no time!
Thank goodness for you, Ms. Morgan! I will be applying this in my own household immediately. Comment below your best tip for back to school routines or your favorite tip from Ms. Morgan!