8 painless ways to ease your kids back into their school routines

Tips to slowly ease the family back into the school routine (WTOP's Shawn Anderson and Hillary Howard speak with Ann Dolin)

WASHINGTON — Every summer has a rhythm to it.

In June, the whole family is excited! Your kids are “free at last,” and you’ve finally earned yourself a well-deserved break from the school routine.

Then July rolls around. Prime vacation time. It’s the middle of summer and everyone is ready to get away, whether that’s to the beach, to visit family, or just for a road trip or two. Some pro-active families are keeping up with reading and maybe some practice assignments here and there, but for most, schoolwork couldn’t seem further away.

Then there’s August — the “wind-down” month. Maybe you’re getting in some last-minute vacation time, but everyone has the first day of school in the back of their minds, whether they care to admit it or not.

And although summer should be enjoyed, the problem is: if you’re not careful, August is gone, and the first day of school hits the whole family like a ton of bricks.

Your kids are:

A. Trying to scramble last minute to get their summer reading done so that they’re not left behind in class.

B. Now having to sacrifice most of their free time to do homework and study — something they haven’t done in months.

C. Waking up much earlier.

And you’re managing them through that whole process, not to mention adjusting your schedule to pack lunches, get them to school on time, and make sure they’re actually getting their assignments done.

But, there is an alternative.

Here are eight steps I recommend parents begin now so that you can slowly ease the family back into the school routine without it being such a shock to the system.

Not only will this be more comfortable for everyone involved, it’ll also set the stage for a more successful school year once the end of August finally hits. Getting off on the right foot sets a great tone for the rest of the year and leaves the whole family better off in the process.

Happy school boy reading a book in the backyard. Child relaxing in a garden swing with books. Kids read during summer vacation. Children studying. Teenager kid doing homework outdoors. (Thinkstock)
1. Get the ball rolling on summer reading or other assignments First, make sure you set aside some time to address any required assignments or a reading list that may have been provided by your child’s school. Plan out time to work on those assignments. If a book still needs to be read, set aside time for DEAR (Drop Everything and Read). This works best when everyone is getting in on the “DEAR” action. (Thinkstock) (Thinkstock )
Woman pressing snooze button on early morning digital alarm clock (Thinkstock)
2. Start the sleep schedule shift A week before school begins, set the alarm clock a little earlier each day. Start to shift bedtime as well, even consider a bedtime alarm. (Thinkstock) (Thinkstock)
Back to school or ready for school concept with school bag and shoes by front door (Thinkstock)
3. Start the morning routine Have a discussion and agree on what mornings will look like. Start to practice the routine adding a little more every few days. Include some “night-before” preparation as well to make mornings easier. (Thinkstock) (Thinkstock)
Closeup of the hands of young woman preparing a sandwich at home (Thinkstock)
4. Plan out lunches ahead of time Find easy recipes your kids like but are also healthy. Get them involved in the process so that they actually eat what you prepare ahead of time. (Thinkstock) (Thinkstock)
Back to School. Books and fresh apple against chalkboard (Thinkstock)
5. Attend the open house Parents are most worried about academics, but kids are more worried about friends. Fitting in, especially in a transition year, is a big worry for kids. Attend the open house, and have your child work the locker lock three times to be sure he has it down pat. Walk the path from class to class three times to ensure your child knows exactly where he or she is going. (Thinkstock) (Thinkstock)
checklist, list, planning, business, (Thinkstock)
6. Make a checklist After the open house, make a checklist of what you need to have ready for the start of school. Make sure everyone in the family has something to do so that the burden isn’t only on you, the parent. Pick a regular time each week or day (if you’re close to the start of school) to go over what’s left as a family. (Thinkstock) (Thinkstock)
For some kids, although they may not like doing things that aren't interesting, they're still able to get through it. But for other kids, it may be difficult to concentrate, even if they really want to, said a former local educator. (Thinkstock)
7. Organize the homework space and gather up school supplies Identify a few places your child can do homework (the bedroom isn’t a great idea). Be sure there are ample school supplies, but stock up after the open house. (Thinkstock) (Thinkstock)
8. Get involved from the start (and put yourself in their shoes) Set the tone for the school year right at the start. Be sure to discuss not only where homework will be done, but at about what time it should start. Discuss these logistics with your child and get their input. And perhaps most importantly, put yourself in their shoes: What are they thinking about? Worrying about? And what can you do to help? (Thinkstock) (Thinkstock)
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Happy school boy reading a book in the backyard. Child relaxing in a garden swing with books. Kids read during summer vacation. Children studying. Teenager kid doing homework outdoors. (Thinkstock)
Woman pressing snooze button on early morning digital alarm clock (Thinkstock)
Back to school or ready for school concept with school bag and shoes by front door (Thinkstock)
Closeup of the hands of young woman preparing a sandwich at home (Thinkstock)
Back to School. Books and fresh apple against chalkboard (Thinkstock)
checklist, list, planning, business, (Thinkstock)
For some kids, although they may not like doing things that aren't interesting, they're still able to get through it. But for other kids, it may be difficult to concentrate, even if they really want to, said a former local educator. (Thinkstock)

Ann Dolin is a former public school teacher and the founder and president of Educational Connections Tutoring, which helps students throughout the D.C. area. She’s the author of the award-winning books “Homework Made Simple” and “A Parent’s Guide to Private Schools.”


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