Happy child playing with toy wings against summer sky background

Today marks the end of the first week of school for a large portion of Arizona’s students.  The first week of school is often a hodgepodge of emotions – excitement to see friends, nervousness over “what-ifs,” sleepiness from the change in morning routines, and anticipatory excitement over the upcoming year’s potential. The start of school is equally emotional for parents who are rebuilding routines, establishing new schedules to help balance the home/work/school obligations, and, for many parents, envisioning a school year that looks “better” than previous years.

As we enter the second week, the excitement might start to dissipate as parents and students alike are faced with the realities that are now upon us – homework, extracurricular activities, volunteerism, social commitments, etc. How do you best prepare yourself and your child(ren) for the second week (& beyond)? Some suggestions:

1)      Update/use a family calendar for household viewing that includes all activities and events for the month.

2)      Create routine boards. You can do this is many different ways depending on your level of commitment and creativity. This can be as simple as white boards or as complicated as something you’d find on Pinterest.  A great strategy for helping define blocks of time on any board is to use colored masking tape to create lines. Best thing about them?  If you change routines, your lines/time segments can stay put!

Morning: What does your child need to do from the moment they get out of bed until heading out the door to go to school? Make a checklist and celebrate when the routine is completed! For example:

  • Shower: No later than 7:00
  • Brush Teeth
  • Get Dressed (might need to detail this for younger kids)
  • Eat Breakfast: No later than 7:40

After School: What are the afternoon expectations and in what order? Identify time limits and your expectations. For example:

  • Snack/Quiet/Relaxation: 3:30-4:00
  • Homework: 4:00 until finished
  • Dinner: 6:00
  • Screen Time or Free Time: 7:00-7:45
  • Prepare for Tomorrow: Make lunch, put backpack and sports bags by door, lay out clothes and shoes
  • Reading Time: 8:00
  • Shower
  • Lights Out: 9:00

Whatever routines you create, think through the possible obstacles and create alternate routines for those days.

3)      Set a few goals (no more than 2 or 3), with your child(ren), for the upcoming MONTH. Realizing that “life happens” and that things will inevitably change, identify what is important to ensuring a strong start to the year. A few goals to consider: Talk to 2 new kids this month. Empty my backpack each night.  Make my own lunch.  Rejoice together whenever you achieve a goal and then create new ones!

4)      Set a time and method for communicating with teachers.  How can you best build your child’s “posse” so that you and your child feel supported?

5)      Most importantly, regardless of previous experiences, plan to start this school year with a new mindset – “this year will be a good year.” Remember that your children carry with them the angst that they know their parents have. Convincing yourself and your child(ren) that this is a new year with new potential is the mindful way to promote positive thinking. If things don’t go as anticipated, seek to create a team of experts who can help you make positive, proactive decisions.

Dana Herzberg, M.Ed.

President, Herzberg Educational Services, Inc.
Founder/Head of School, The Jones-Gordon School
Founder, On-Track Tutoring