Back to School: Tips to Help Children Ease Back into Routine

by on July 28th, 2011 at 7:00 am

Research shows that children thrive on routine, and need healthy boundaries to be maintained while they develop. While it’s a good idea to restore balanced everyday routine in the household as soon as possible following a holiday, it is equally important that this be done in a gentle and realistic manner.

As children ease back into term time, it can be difficult for them to settle into the routine of schoolwork, early nights and stable, pre-holiday behavior. This period of adjustment can be chaotic and difficult, so this month we focus on getting back into the normal swing of things, and look at how to reinforce (or perhaps re-build) the healthy boundaries that may have weakened over the school break.

Routine and the ADHD child

For the ADHD child in particular, school holidays may have provided a slight setback in terms of a steady routine. School term means getting back on track, and making the necessary provisions for ADHD children so that they are better equipped to succeed with the school tasks at hand. A tutor for term time is a good idea – as are regular meetings between parents and teachers to discuss areas that may need particular extra attention. Remember not to isolate your ADHD child too much from your other children. It is important that they feel included, but extra regulations and set schedules for term-time may be necessary.

Tips for better term time routine (for both you and the kids!):

1. Rise ‘n shine!

It is important to remember that a child’s body clock is delicate, and one late night will most likely disrupt their sleep patterns for the school week. Talk with them about why sleep is important and gradually ease them into a healthy routine. Once sleep patterns are balanced, there is still the task of setting a routine for pre-school preparations each morning! This can be a chaotic time, will all sorts of delaying tactics from little ones.

2. Lay the breakfast table out the night before.

Apart from perishables, put out everything needed for breakfast the night before. It’s a good idea to keep all breakfast items in one cupboard, and have children take turns in setting it up at night or first thing in the mornings as part of their morning routine.

3. Put out school clothes, book bags and pack lunches the night before.

For smaller children, lay out their school clothes the night before. Older children can organize their clothes themselves – but this should be done the night before to save time. When you say goodnight it’s also a good time for a gentle reminder. It is also a good idea to pre-pack lunches after dinner – you may even want to include any healthy ‘leftovers’.

4. Set up a ‘school corner’.

Set up a specific area or ‘school corner’ for sports equipment, library books and whatever else the kids need! Provide at least one basket or box for school shoes (kids should be encouraged to put shoes in the box as soon as they take them off) and a coat stand for school blazers or scarves. Another basket or box should be kept for each child – used as a place to put any school-related items – letters to teachers, music, library books etc. In this way everything is in one place and ready – making it easier to head out in the morning with no fuss.

5. Make a school chart.

Sit with your kids and their schedule and make a chart of things needed for each day (gym clothes, etc) then pin it up at the ‘school corner’ in your house. Have each child check the list each morning. This will help children to remember what they need, and will become good habit in the long run. Keep a notice board on the wall in the ‘school corner’ so that you can pin up reminders, invitations, school menus or whatever else you need to keep tabs on.

6. Give homework a ‘home’.

This is an important one. Establish a set place and time for doing homework and stick to it. Keep dictionaries, encyclopedias and other relevant books the kids may need nearby. Also keep a stationary drawer filled with extra supplies. This will limit the need for kids to periodically leave their homework to fetch items, and minimize distraction. Make sure that homework is put back into satchels as soon as it is completed and that satchels are returned to ‘school corner’ straight away!

7. Parent’s prep.

It is just as important for parents to be prepared as it is for kids to plan ahead. If the car is low on gas, fill up on the way home from school – to save valuable time in the mornings. Another idea is to set your alarm to wake you ten minutes earlier – you will be amazed at what a difference ten minutes makes! Getting to school five minutes early will also go a long way in eliminating stress for your kids. By putting healthy routines in place your kids will feel more comfortable and in control, and give them the best start to a school day.

Once they get home and into afternoon routines and schedules, evenings will become less chaotic too. Best of all, by establishing good routines and encouraging children to help you maintain them, you will be encouraging patterns that will last into adulthood.


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One Response to “Back to School: Tips to Help Children Ease Back into Routine”

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