A new school year doesn’t have to be hectic and stressful. Here are some ways to alleviate the headache and keep things running smoothly.
Top 10 Tips to Launch the School Year Like a Pro
Whether your children are rushing off to get to school on-time or you are trying to launch your homeschool before noon, there are routines and practices that give all family members a framework for success. It’s not just the kids that do best when they know what to expect – even adults function best with a flexible, yet predictable, routine. The following tips will help your family develop good habits and create a smooth flow for a productive day. So without further adeiu, here are 10 tips to launch the school year right.
Tip #1: Establish a bedtime.
While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s not easy for everyone. However, research has shown that people function better with proper sleep. Our bodies, both young and old, require adequate sleep for our brains and bodies to sustain mental focus, make proper nutrition choices, maintain higher energy levels, and more. Parents are instrumental in helping teens develop better sleep habits. To improve sleep quality, experts recommend shutting down devices 30-60 minutes before bedtime and having a consistent bedtime routine. Here is an example:
7:00 pm Devices off, silenced, and plugged in outside of the bedroom.
7:05 pm Shower and get pajamas on.
7:20 pm Make a cup of tea or grab a glass of water.
7:25 pm Sit and read a book (aloud or independently) or discuss/reflect on the day
7:50 pm Brush teeth and say goodnights to loved ones
8:00 pm In bed and lights out!
Tip #2: Ease into an earlier wake-up time.
During the weeks of summer fun, most folks enjoy some leisurely mornings. I know my teenagers certainly do! So to avoid the morning grump, gradually train the sleepyheads in the group to wake up a little earlier each day. This goes hand-in-hand with those earlier bedtimes! One example for a gradual wake-up schedule is to wake up 15 minutes earlier every day until the desired wake-up time is achieved. If you’ve got a noon riser, you’ll need to start a few weeks early! You can also increase the increments to 30 minutes earlier after the first week (of 15 minute increments) is conquered.
Tip #3: Set up a breakfast station.
This is one of my favorites and I’ve done it differently throughout the years, depending on the ages of my children. When everyone knows what the options are and where to find them, breakfast can be done in a snap. I know some families who knock the concept of a breakfast station out of the park! However, a breakfast station can be as simple as cereal, bowls, and milk set out or a refrigerator drawer with premade breakfast burritos. For great tips to launch the school year using breakfast stations, check out this list of ideas to get your inspiration flowing:
- Breakfast burritos
- Protein & fruit packs
- Cereal/Granola station
- Continental breakfast bar
- Toaster pancakes/waffles
Tip #4: Pre-pack lunches.
Enlist the family for this one! This is a fun meal-prep opportunity for everyone to pitch in with. Having lunches prepped, labeled, and ready to eat is ideal, if space permits. If not, prep the sandwiches/leftovers, wash and prep fruits, and set lunch bags on the counter to pack in the morning.
Set up an assembly line for sandwiches and add piles of extras such as chips, fruit, and treats. When my kids were little, they loved making their own trail mix to add to the lunch prep; they would add their chosen ingredients from the options I provided (granola, shredded coconut, nuts of sorts, m&m’s, etc.). Then, they’d portion out 1/4-1/2 cup of granola into snack bags for the week and add that into their lunches. To prep lunches, don’t forget:
- Prewashed and portioned fruit (grapes, sliced apples, peeled oranges)
- Protein (rolled deli slices, sandwiches, leftover dinner)
- Crunchies (chips, pretzels, carrots, celery)
- Drinks (water bottles, juice boxes)
- Treats (Who doesn’t love a cookie in their lunch to look forward to?!)
- Napkins or hand wipes
Tip #5: Post a schedule.
Now, some folks are super organized and have a well-executed Command Center. But at the least, it is helpful to all the family members if a schedule is posted for people to see at a glance in a high-traffic location. Got lots of kids? Teenagers? You may want to add a bathroom schedule so they know their time allotment. If you’re a homeschool family, your posted schedule should include – either comprehensively or in addition to – your school schedule. School schedules may include outsourced classes, activities, as well as home-instruction blocks and quiet times to read. Things to include:
- School schedule
- Classes to attend
- Extra-curricular activities/sports
- Mom/Dad appointments or meetings
- Kids appointments
- School breaks/days off
Tip #6: Create a launch pad.
Similar to a command center, but for each individual. A launch pad can be inside each person’s bedroom door, or in individual sections of a mudroom or entryway hall tree. Launch pads may include purses, backpacks, lunch coolers, coats, and anything else one shouldn’t forget before they jet out the door.
Tip #7: Set out clothes the night before.
An oldie but a goodie! When everyone decides on what they will wear and sets out clothes, shoes, and accessories the night before, it saves time in the morning.
Tip #8: Establish the work space.
This may be listed as number 8, but for tips to launch the school year right, this one shouldn’t be undervalued. Where do Mom and Dad need to work and focus? Where do the kids like to do homework? Where can someone go to read quietly without distraction? Where can the family gather to do group learning and projects? Envision your life in action. What do you want your space to do? What do you want it to look like? How can that space flow within your home? Establishing your space is important. It will evolve. You do NOT have recreate a classroom in your home! Many years of learning have taken place at the kitchen table. Every house and every family will have their own unique ideas of how to utilize their space. Don’t be afraid to make changes and switch things up if they don’t work as well as you envisioned- it will evolve. Some ideas:
- Reading nook (books, blanket, pillow, stuffed animal, adequate lighting)
- Writing space (paper, pens, pencils, colored pencils)
- Craft corner (let your imagination and resources run wild!)
- Collaboration space (group projects)
- Mounted white board for instruction
Tip #9: Designate a break time and activity options.
Breaks to rest and restore are just as crucial as productivity times. Designate times for breaks. Brainstorm in advance what types of activities are acceptable and feasible during break times. For example, if the break time is 10 minutes, a 6 year old starting a painting project is probably not a realistic option. Some questions to consider:
- What outdoor activities are possible? Perhaps you have a basketball hoop? Football? Frisbee to throw around?
- What indoor activities do my children enjoy? Maybe you have a craft station loaded with coloring books and crayons/color mediums to use? Maybe break time is screen time- a 15-30 minute block where kids are allowed to chill out on YouTube or Disney+?
Whatever the parameters for your family are, make sure everyone knows what the boundaries and options are in advance.
Tip #10: Breathe!
Our children are our greatest investment! We are dedicated to their success and well-being. We will forever question if what we do is good enough. Take heart, dear ones. Breathe. If your children are invested in, loved, nurtured, and given ample opportunities to learn, they have a great headstart! Folks… give yourselves a little grace. Allow yourselves, your children, and your family the room to grow and learn together. You can do this! It will be OK. 🙂
One thought on “Tricks & Tips to Launch the School Year Right”
Amazing tips! Any combination of these will help a child and parents start the school year off right.
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