Crafting a School Year Routine for Your Family

watercolor paintsWho doesn’t love the lazy days of summer? The time when we are finally able to drop into a slower paced existence calls to all of us and is something we often long for. But as fall and the start of a new school year approach, now is the time to start building a routine for your family that will make the school year go a lot smoother.

Remember that a set (but not rigid) routine is beneficial to kids because it provides a sense of security by giving them the knowledge of what will happen at a given time. Routines provide life with a rhythm and absorbing that rhythm can be extremely soothing.

Let’s first think about bedtime. During the summer as day fades into a long evening it’s very easy to toss aside any semblance of a regular bedtime for your children. After all, the morning alarm won’t be calling out its message to rise and shine anytime soon. Sleeping in a bit in the morning is a summer luxury that’s fun to indulge in.

It’s easy to think that your family will automatically fall back into regular bedtimes and early mornings with no trouble. But the fact of the matter is that you can help facilitate the process and ensure success by following the few steps suggested below.

  • Start easing your child into an earlier bedtime several weeks before school begins. A simple way to transition to a set bedtime is to have kids start getting ready for bed 15 or 20 minutes earlier for a week. The next week increase those minutes and by the time the new school year starts the new earlier bedtime will be set.  Your child needs 10-11 hours of sleep at night so if during the school year your family gets up between 6:30-7:00 a.m., just count back 10 or 11 hours to come up with a bedtime of around 8:00 p.m. Setting a bedtime and sticking with it will assure that your child doesn’t become sleep deprived as the school year swings into high gear.
  • The other half of setting an earlier bedtime by 15 or 20 minutes each night is to wake your child 15 or 20 minutes earlier the next morning. This process of earlier to bed and earlier to rise in small increments over a period of time will help “reset” your child’s internal clock and help insure a successful school year.
  • Don’t forget to limit the use of electronics starting an hour before the assigned bedtime. Studies show that the flickering “blue light” of TV, video games, cell phones, etc., can have a detrimental effect on our ability to get to sleep. Giving your child a “No Electronics” rule for the hour prior to bedtime will help ensure that he will get the proper amount of zzz’s.

In addition to setting an earlier bedtime and morning wakeup for your child, there are several other things you can do to install a solid, workable routine for your family this school year.

  1. Keep an accurate family calendar. There’s no end to the frustration that can be avoided by knowing what’s on tap for the week ahead of time. Family calendars can be anything from a large color-coded affair posted in central location to an online calendar program such as Google Calendar. The point is whatever calendar format you use, be sure to keep your family calendar up to date and don’t forget to check it often!
  2. Know what’s going on at your child’s school. This ties in with the family calendar in that all your child’s school activities and deadlines should be recorded on your calendar. But you can’t record things if you don’t know what’s going on. Help your child feel more in-the-know by thoroughly reading the school and the classroom newsletters when they come out. They both will contain a wealth of information for your family and will help insure that your family’s routine runs smoothly.
  3. Do whatever meal planning and grocery shopping necessary to help dinner time in your home be a stable, you-can-count-on-it daily appointment for your family. Yes, it’s extremely difficult as kids get involved with after-school activities and sports but it’s important to do your best to make it happen. Even if some family members arrive late after sports practice and some leave early to make it to an activity, aim for at least 10-15 minutes of common time for your family around the dinner table.  There’s a lot of comfort that comes not only from the food, but from spending time together as a family.
  4. Have a set place and time for homework for your child. But also remember that each child has boy drawinga different “best practice” when it comes to homework. Some kids find having a snack and playtime prior to doing homework is essential to being able to settle down and study. Others might want to dig right in, work for half and hour or so, and then take a snack and exercise break. Whatever study method you find works best for your child it’s important to provide him with a designated study space. You can read my blog post, Study Time!, for additional suggestions on this topic.

For additional ideas on routines that can help with your child’s school year, please check out some of my thoughts on the topic on my website. Or the internet is full of ideas that can give you a jump start on finding the perfect schedule and routine for your family this school year.

In closing, I hope you have an awesome week with your child as the weeks leading up to the new school year dwindle.

Cathie

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