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Bright Ideas from Our Readers: Easing into the School Routine

Our readers share their strategies for preparing for school year routines.

By GreatSchools Staff

Thanks to readers who shared their tips for adjusting to earlier bed times and busier mornings before the school year starts. Many readers mentioned the importance of beginning the adjustment a few weeks before school starts so changes can be gradual. Others noted that keeping summer routines similar to school year schedules avoided the need for an adjustment plan. Our readers agreed that preparing the night before was the best way to avoid hectic mornings. Some of their comments:

Make changes gradually.

"What I do for my 14-year-old son is begin two weeks before school starts," wrote a California mom. "I cut his bedtime and his wake- up time each morning little by little so his body doesn't have to adjust to a quick change. We gradually work toward our goal - 10 p.m. bed, 6:45 a.m. wake up! It seems to work for us!"

Keep a steady routine.

Another California mom said: "For our household it's pretty easy to get back into our routine for school. My daughter has been going to the YMCA all summer, so our routine has not changed much. The week prior to school starting she usually goes to bed about a half-hour or 45 minutes earlier than she has all summer, so the adjustment is minimal. Clothes are laid out the night before so we don't have to scramble about what to wear in the morning."

Get ready for morning before bed.

One mom shared her morning system: "In our house we avoid morning scrambles by preparing everything the night before. My daughter bathes at night, and I lay out every piece of clothing that she is going to wear, including underwear and socks. For lunches and snacks, I pack everything that's not perishable. Things such as carrot sticks and celery are bagged and put together in the fridge for easy access in the morning. I even clear with my daughter what she will be having for breakfast, so there is no confusion in the morning. We have had this system for three years now and it works flawlessly 99% of the time."

Keep learning all summer.

Another mom wrote: "We don't get too far away from our regular bedtime and wake-up time all year long. We all read every night for 30 minutes and talk about what we've learned each day. After all, learning doesn't stop because school is closed in July and August!"

Get help with wake-up.

"I get my 8-year-old son's clothes, backpack and lunch ready the night before," noted a busy mom in California. "This is a must considering I am always in a hurry in the morning. I got my son an alarm clock to help him get up in the morning. It works for me"

Give fair warning.

A Massachusetts mom said: "I keep my 10-year-old fifth-grader in the school routine by sending him to tutoring one hour per week during the summer. To conquer the bedtime routine, I post on the family calendar when the school bedtime will go into effect. About two weeks before school starts, he begins to go to bed and get up in the morning as if he had to go to school. It seems to work well for us!"

Stock up on essentials.

A Wisconsin mom said: "I am the mom of a 7-& 8-year-old. I stock up on the essentials: crayons, pencils, erasers, glue sticks during the back-to-school sales. I frequently ask the kids during the year if they need to replenish their supplies. Many times they do, but they might also want to bring some items for a classmate who doesn't have the right supplies. I always have back-up lunchboxes, too. Sometimes the previous day's lunchbox got left at school by accident. No problem, we have a back-up! We save our spare change during the summer and use it for the daily milk money. When we are rushing around in the morning, it's good to have a spare hairbrush in the car, hats/gloves for winter time and a few snack items."

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