It's finally here: back to school time. For families, it's a chance to hit the reset button and start fresh. How do you make the most of that opportunity? Having a consistent daily routine can really help. Here's how to make sure your kids start the year on the right foot:
1. Plan for the morning rush
Getting out of the house in the morning is often... hectic. The milk's all gone. Somebody can't find their shoes. Somebody else forgot their homework. To reduce the stress, try working backwards from the bus stop or school drop off time to create a clear morning schedule. For example, if the bus comes at 7:45, plan for everyone to be putting shoes and backpacks on by 7:35. That means having breakfast by 7:15 and getting out of bed by 6:45. Know what has to happen when, and put a clock where everyone can see it, so your kids can see for themselves when time is tight. And if you're still struggling to get out the door, try waking up five minutes earlier -- it can make a big difference.
2. Set up a drop zone
Kids bring home a lot of stuff from school. Art projects. Dirty lunch boxes. Notes and reminders. Worksheets. Library books. Sports gear. There's no end to it. Set up a drop zone (for example, on an entryway bench or against a wall) where they can put everything when they get home. It'll help keep it all out of the way and make it easier for everyone to find what they need.
3. Block off time for homework
As a parent, prioritizing homework and making sure it gets done is more important than helping with the content of the homework itself. To make it happen, set aside a window of time when your kids usually work on their homework, like right before or after dinner. Keep the TV off and set the expectation that everyone in the house uses this time for quiet activities. If some siblings finish their homework before others, make sure they don't distract those who are still working -- encourage them to read, draw, or use an educational game or app.
4. Get serious about sleep
Sometimes being a good parent means saying, "no, go to bed." Kids need sleep! It helps them learn, focus and stay healthy. Experts recommend that students get 8-11 hours of sleep each night. Have a set bedtime routine for your kids (including some nightly reading time) and stick to it. You may find that it makes the morning rush easier, too.
EdTip: Cut down your morning to-do list
Mornings are hard because there's so much to do in such a short time. Try moving some of those to-do's to the night before, like laying out clothes, getting backpacks ready, and packing snacks or lunches.