How to Get Your Kids Back into a Morning Routine Before School Starts

published Aug 12, 2022
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It’s hard to believe, but … summer vacation is almost coming to an end? For kids and parents, that means the start of the school year is nigh. It may feel like a rude awakening for some kids — going to bed early, leaving the house on time, and having homework again. The transition can be tough for parents, too, who likely enjoyed a summer without any schoolwork or micromanaging their kids. 

To make this seasonal shift less stark, try out these six tips for easing those back-to-school morning woes.

Communicate with your kids.

Having a conversation with your kids about school restarting again is a helpful way to ease any anxiety or fears they may have about getting back into a routine. Kids may process emotions internally, but aren’t necessarily expressing themselves to you. It may take you asking how they feel to open up. 

“As a parent, it’s helpful to remember that change can cause stress and anxiety in kids, and so building in slower transition periods to ease into the change can help to bring your kids’ back to school stress down a little bit at a time,” says Risa Williams, a mom, licensed psychotherapist, and author of time management books. “It also helps to build in soothing, encouraging talk about the change ahead.” Plus, Williams says, “Keep in mind that kids have already had to experience much change throughout the pandemic that they may still be processing.” 

With some kids, you might have to implement a workaround to get them talking — it may be best to bring it up in the context of a fun activity, like shopping for school clothes or supplies

Help them get back to their school bedtime. 

During summer vacation, bedtimes can tend to slide back. Whether it’s from movie nights or leisurely vacations, kids are often going to sleep later during the non-school months. Now that school is getting ready to start again, it may be time for a reset.

“The most important thing is to get kids on a regular sleep schedule at least a week before school starts,” says Dr. Katie Davis, a licensed psychologist in New York. What’s the best way to go about reestablishing a bedtime routine? “Limiting screen time to 30 minutes before bed, sleeping with no phones or computers in the room, going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, and getting at least eight hours of sleep a night,” Davis advises. 

Build in transition time.

Having no buffer between when summer ends and school starts may not be the best strategy to help children with restarting a morning routine. Establishing structure before school starts is key. 

Elle Penner, minimalism expert and mom of two, recommends “wrapping up summer travels at least four to five days before school starts and keeping plans to a minimum during these days.”

“Both you and your kids will benefit from some unscheduled transition time to recharge from your summer fun and ease back into real life before the first day of school. Use these slow days at home to get your kids back into some of their school week routines,” Penner says. “For example, have them set out their clothes the evening before and take a shower before bed each night.” 

Even having one week between vacation and school time will help kids mark the end of one season and the start of another. 

Create a positive association with school.

Talking to your child about the positive aspects regarding school could help them look forward to returning to the morning routine. Mentioning friends they may see again, recess, and the excitement of finding out who their teacher will be can help with the outlook of returning to school again. 

“Talk about all the things your kids are going to love about being back at school, such as seeing their friends and learning new things. Help them get excited about going back by painting a picture of all the great things that await them,” says Micah Klug, mother of five and homeschool teacher. 

Credit: Anna Spaller

Organize your home with school “zones”.

Mornings can be hectic and whether you work from home or need to drive into the office, hunting for your child’s belongings can be stressful for everyone involved. It’s easier to navigate the mornings if there is a specific place for school-related items. 

Early childhood educator and mom Stephanie Vainer recommends organizing your home with zones specifically for school. “For example, the entryway is for backpacks, all the sports stuff is in the garage, and all the art and homework is put in a bin in the kitchen.” 

Don’t let school go completely in the summer.

Some parents think having a balance of summer fun and some learning may help kids embrace school more readily come fall. Though breaks and play are important, they may feel like they “don’t have the hang of school” without having any kind of learning for the two to three months of summer vacation. 

Instead, says Hart Cunningham, education professional and owner of Enroll, “It can also be helpful to try and incorporate some schooling during the summer so your kids can easily pick up where they left off. If they struggle with a particular subject, it can help to spend a couple hours a week on lesson books so they can feel more confident about their skills when they are back at school.”

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 6 Tips for Getting Your Kids Back Into a Morning Routine Before School Starts