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5 Back-To-School Routine Tips (+ Mistakes To Avoid This Year)


The beginning of the school year sneaks up fast. The routine shift from sandcastles and sunscreen to textbooks and homework in the blink of an eye.

Switching from summer mode to school mode can be a tough adjustment, but having a well-planned routine can help make the transition easier. Keep reading to learn which common back-to-school routine mistakes to avoid and helpful tips to ensure your child is set up for a successful start to the school year.


Back-To-School Tips For Parents (Do’s And Don’ts)

1. Purchasing Back-To-School Supplies

Don’t: Wait until the last minute to purchase school supplies
Do: Shop for supplies using a checklist well ahead of the start of the school year

The most important tool a student needs for the classroom is an active mind—but it’s just as important to stock up on essential supplies he or she will need in class.

Shopping a couple of weeks ahead of the start of the school year allows time to organize existing supplies and purchase new items, and helps to get your child excited about returning to school. It also reduces stress and is one less thing to worry about in the days leading up to the first day of school.

Start your shopping trip prepared with a back-to-school checklist to avoid forgetting items. Your checklist should include everything from writing supplies, notebooks, calculators, binders, and more.

2. Extracurriculars & Activities

Don’t: Overbook your child’s schedule with too many extracurricular activities
Do: Choose one or two activities your child is passionate about

While activities like soccer and dance are great ways for your child to stay social, develop skills, and blow off steam, involvement in these activities takes up a lot of his or her time. This can lead to your child being stressed, which in turn can impact school performance.

It’s tough to juggle a jam-packed schedule while completing homework and achieving good grades in school. Although your child might want to be involved in everything, narrow activities down to one or two choice he or she is most interested in so school remains a priority.

If the activities are demanding at times (such as practices, games, and tournaments), create a plan with your child for how he or she will still study and complete homework before things get busy.

3. Goal Setting

Don’t: Wait until the school year is underway before setting goals with your child
Do: Set goals before the first day of school

Take a look at last year’s report card with your child and help him or her identify areas to work on during the upcoming school year. Break these goals down into small, achievable steps and help your child make a plan for reaching them. For example, if your child’s goal is to improve his or her reading ability, plan to read one chapter of a book each school night.

Waiting to set goals until the school year is well underway or when problems arise puts your child at a disadvantage. Setting goals with clear direction before the first day of school will help your child stay on track from the start to the end of the school year.

4. After School Rules

Don’t: Wait until things get busy to set after-school rules
Do: Set clear expectations for after-school from day one

Before the school year begins, set clear expectations for school night routines with your child. These expectations should cover:

  • How much time will be allotted to homework each night
  • When homework will be worked on each night
  • How much time using technology (like a cell phone or TV) is permitted each night
  • What time your child goes to bed each night

Introducing new rules when the school year gets busy can be frustrating and difficult for your child to adjust to if he or she is used to a different routine. Children do well when they know what to expect, and what is expected of them. Setting rules gives structure to your child’s after-school routine and can help him or her with time management skills.

5. Downtime

Don’t: Only schedule downtime when it ‘fits’
Do: Include ample time to de-stress and relax in your child’s after-school routine

Although many children and teenagers like to be active and busy, downtime is also important. Your child may have a lot on his or her plate between homework, tests, extracurriculars, activities, and more. Make sure your child has ample time in his or her schedule to relax and unwind.

Downtime should be a part of your child’s daily routine. It helps to reduce stress, manage feelings, and improve functioning. Disregarding or only including this important time in your child’s routine when it can fit can lead to serious issues down the road, such as burnout and other mental health issues.

If your child has too much going on to allow downtime in his or her schedule, consider talking to his or her teacher about excessive workload or re-evaluating involvement in other activities.

6. Homework

Don’t: Skip scheduled homework time if your child doesn’t have assigned work
Do: Encourage your child to use the time for educational activities

Even if your child doesn’t have assigned homework from the teacher, use the homework time you have set aside each evening for your child to work on skill development activities. Not only does this help establish a routine for when your child does have assigned homework—it also puts “homework-free” nights to good use.

Some activities to work on could include:

  • Reading
  • Spelling practice
  • Educational games
  • Practice questions from textbooks

Build A Routine To Help Your Child Succeed

A great school year starts with establishing a consistent after-school routine. The new school year will be here before you know it, so it’s never too early to start thinking about your child’s routine for the fall. Use our back-to-school routine tips to help set your child up for success last lasts the entire school year!

Check out our other resources to help you plan for back-to-school:
10 Things To Do To Prepare For Back-To-School

5 Ways To Kick Off A Successful School Year

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