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Getting Ready for Back-to-School Routines

By Kara Deschenes on 08/24/2015 | Featured Columns & Series

Ah, the days of summer. Between loosened schedules, random adventures and extended bedtimes, there’s no doubt that kids love the relaxed fun only summer can bring. But as the calendar moves further into August, one thing becomes clear: back-to-school season is here!

After following a less-structured schedule for the past couple of months, it’s important to ease back into routines, helping ensure a successful start of the school year. 

Jackie Jackson-Dean, a school psychologist in Pasco County, Florida, says, “Summer time is often filled with fun activities like camps and vacations. There isn’t the hustle and bustle of daily learning and normal routines often become scattered. By thinking ahead of the transition from summer to the beginning of school, parents can slowly prepare their children for the earlier bedtimes and wake-ups, packing of lunches, homework time, etc….”

For adults, going with the flow and being flexible might be standard operating procedure, but kids actually crave more structure. Experiencing predictable patterns gives them security in their environment. When children know what to expect, it reduces the likelihood that they will experience anxiety or stress.

So as change looms near, Jasckson-Dean recommends these helpful tips to help make the transition back-to-school as smooth as possible:

Gradually adjust bed and wake-up times.

Instead of asking children to go to bed a full hour earlier the night before the first day of school, try introducing bedtime that gradually moves toward the goal time. For example, if summer bedtime is 9:30 p.m. and the goal is 9:00 p.m., start by moving bedtime 10 minutes earlier each night until the goal is reached. Use the same strategy for morning wake-ups to help ward-off grumpy risers.

Recruit lunch/snack help.

If your child packs her lunch or snacks for school, include her in the grocery shopping planning. Go through the store ads and pick out foods together that your child can pack in her lunch box. By allowing her to take part in the planning, she’ll feel more part of the process and is more likely to embrace to idea.

Plan back-to-school fashion to avoid morning crisis.

Many parents battle with their children about what to wear to school. Start early by encouraging your child to think about what she’d like to wear the first week back. Try laying out outfits you agree on the night before and take the guesswork out of morning procedures.

Be a planner.

Begin thinking about any afterschool, bedtime, and morning routines that you want to establish and make checklists of the crucial steps for each. For example, if your child’s afterschool routine includes getting off the bus, putting shoes and backpack in a designated area, getting a snack and having a few minutes of TV/computer time before completing homework, write all of these steps on a list. Use the checklist to reinforce the routine during the first few weeks of school, until it becomes habit.

Going back-to-school doesn’t have to be a stressful time. By planning ahead and using these easy strategies, you’ll help ensure a smooth family transition!

Kara Deschenes

Author

Kara Deschenes is a former collegiate tennis player turned runner, with a passion for inspiring people to be active. As a health and fitness writer and editor, her work has been published by Women's Running magazine, IRONMAN, and Active.com. When she's not playing on a trail you'll find her soaking in lake life with her puppies. Follow Kara's latest healthy adventure @KaraDeschenes.

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