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As summer begins to fade into distant memories, the anticipation of school brings excitement. However, it is wise to take time to prepare your children as the new school year descends upon us. A familiar routine will get the school year off to a great start.
Re-establish regular routines
Routines and rituals help define your days, structure your time and provide a sense of order that all of us seem to crave. Ease children back into a school year routine gradually. As the summer days wind down, put your kids on a schedule similar to the one they will have this fall. Gradually send them to bed earlier and begin waking late sleepers earlier and earlier, closer to the hour they will need to rise when school begins. Do not neglect to help your children readjust to mealtimes. Younger children, in particular, need to adapt to new meal routines before the school day demands it of them. Plan meals and snacks to accustom little ones to rituals of the school day before the school year begins.
Establish a morning routine
- Put an alarm clock in each school-aged child's bedroom and show your children how to use it. This will help your children get used to a regular sleep routine and help to make them more independent.
- Have every capable family member make their bed; put away pyjamas; and tidy their bedrooms.
- Make sure everyone eats breakfast-including yourself! To keep things simple in the morning, you may want to offer cereal, frozen waffles, frozen pancakes, or even the leftovers from last night's meal.
- After breakfast, have each family member set the dishes to soak in the sink or stack them in the dishwasher.
- You may have to establish a "bathroom" schedule for your family so that everyone is ensured of proper time in front of the mirror.
- Make sure everyone is dressed properly and has their lunches before they head out the door.
Establish an evening routine
This ritual may be best performed right before bedtime, but will prove helpful regardless of when you do it.
- Ensure that complete outfits are ready for each family member.
- Prepare lunches.
- Sign any homework, forms, or permission slips that need signing.
- Set out your breakfast materials as much as possible. Set the table, put dry cereal in bowls under a towel or tablecloth-anything you can do at night will save you a few precious minutes in the morning. You may also want to put child-friendly (light) pitchers of milk and juice in the fridge, so that your children can make their own cold-cereal breakfasts, freeing you for other things.
- Set alarm clocks.
- Bedtime is a great opportunity to make yourself available to your children-emotionally and physically. Ask your child about his or her school day, and about future plans and goals. A neck rub for your tired athlete, for example, is a good way to hear about cheers, challenges and dilemmas.
- Watch the weather report on the evening news and use the information to plan outerwear for the morning.
- Put all items that will be taken to work or school the next morning into their respective cubbyholes. Replenish diaper bags and other supplies to ensure that everything is ready.
- Make sure that all forms or permission slips receive your attention and place in your child's cubbyhole.
- Give baths in the evening, if possible, when there is usually more hot water and more time.
- Plan time each evening to prepare for the following day.
Develop a needs analysis for each child, and check for possible hand-me-downs from older siblings. Make a list of what back-to-school supplies are needed including shoes, binders, organizers, pencils, file folders and tabs. Make a trip to the store together and involve your child in picking out his or her own supplies. This may help your child become excited about the school year and provide motivation for a successful school year.
Check out how you can save money on back-to-school clothes.