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The Informed Parent

School Is Starting: Get Prepared

by Carolyn Warnemuende, M.S.
Published on Aug. 02, 2010

As summer winds down, many families want to eek out every minute of freedom from the more relaxed home routine. Nonetheless, the scheduled structure needed for a smooth school year is less of a shock when eased into during the last week or two before school begins. By taking a few preliminary steps, everyone is ready when the big day arrives.

Sleeping and Waking

Many children go to bed later in summer than during the academic year. To reset the body clock before the first day of school, start the bedtime schedule two weeks prior. The kids may not go to sleep quickly, but they will rest. By the time school starts they will be falling asleep soon after going to bed.

While you may hear moans of chagrin, have the children get up at whatever time they need to on school mornings. It’s hard getting up earlier, even when the bedtime has been adjusted. Soon the body begins to recognize the earlier wake up time though and it won’t be so difficult by the time school starts.

Before Bed Routines

Begin the school year bedtime routines when you change the times the children go to bed and wake up. These rituals prepare the body for sleep. For younger children bathing and getting into jamies, brushing teeth, and having a story read to them is settling for the night. Older children can shower, brush their teeth and read before bed.

Turn the TV off at least a half hour before bedtime. Children are stimulated by the action on TV and it’s easier for the mind to quiet down and enter a sleep mode if there is a break before bed.

Waking Routines

Early rising is hard for many children. By beginning the early morning wake up calls two weeks before school begins they get used to moving faster earlier. It is time to stop summertime playing or lounging in front of the TV. On waking, children need to get dressed and eat breakfast just as they would on school mornings. By the time the first day arrives mornings run smoothly because the routine is already in place.


Some families do chores differently during the school year than they do during summertime. Whatever those chores are, begin them. When children get used to doing these tasks prior to the beginning of the semester the pattern is set.


While life always runs more smoothly when the family is aware of each other’s schedule, it is especially important as everyone’s calendar gets busier. Post the weekly calendar on the refrigerator or in another prominent place. Include dental appointments, sports practices, music lessons and days you will be home late or changing the after school pick-up schedule. Go over the calendar at the beginning of the week. Each night remind the children what to expect the next day. When kids know what to expect, they feel more secure.

Most children feel both excitement and anxiety as the first day of school approaches. By taking the suggested steps, they are prepared for those first few days. You, too, will have worked into the school year routine.

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