TeacherLists Blog

Tips and Tricks for a Successful Back-to-School Routine

Back-to-school season is in full swing! Whether your kids are already in school or returning in the coming weeks, there’s an undeniable adjustment to be made in terms of daily structure–going from a carefree summer to a more rigid school year. Kids can have a hard time with this adjustment since they don’t want to give up their last shred of summer vacation. It’s only natural! Their back-to-school routine is essential for success, so we’ve rounded up 14 ways to get them back in the swing of things!


If they haven’t returned to school yet:


  1. Gradually make bedtimes earlier and earlier until you reach their school-year bedtime. The same goes for wake-up times. You don’t want the first day of school to be a complete shock when they wake up so early!
  2. Set daily reading times. Even if they’ve already completed their summer reading, it’s good to get them back in the habit of sitting down and spending some quiet time focusing on a book.
  3. Drive by the school or better yet, meet the teacher if possible. Even though the school is closed, take them to where they’ll be dropped off in the morning and picked up in the afternoon. It will help alleviate some of the stress over not knowing what they should be doing on the first day. If you can meet the teacher, that will help them feel more comfortable and ease any of that “what if my teacher is mean?” stress.
  4. Go back-to-school shopping! Find your child’s list and take your child shopping with you so they can see everything they’ll need. As you go, explain what each product is for so they can envision what the school year will look like. Let them have some fun with it and pick out their favorite colors or items with their favorite TV characters on them!
  5. Schedule playdates with classmates. This is especially useful if your child doesn’t have close friends in their classroom that year. They’ll feel more comfortable knowing they’ll have someone they know on their first day back!
  6. Set mealtimes. At school, meals and snacks are had at designated times, in designated places. Mimic that at home in the weeks leading up to the first day of school so they’ll get used to having their meals at certain times instead of throughout the day. If you don’t know when their lunch time will be, use your best approximation.
  7. Go over your child’s schedule with them. Set reasonable expectations by writing down as close to a daily schedule as you can get- wake up times, when they have to leave for school, after school activities, homework time, etc.. That way, they’re not overwhelmed with their sudden sense of responsibility come school time!
  8. Incorporate daily conversation into your routine. In previous years, you may have been stuck in the “What did you do at school today?”/”Nothing” cycle. Let’s face it, most parents are. This makes it difficult to connect with your child and know what’s going on in the classroom. Make it a priority to talk with your child about their day now so that it won’t be so jarring when you start asking questions in the new school year. Maybe even read up on the best questions to ask!

If they have returned to school:


  1. Buy an alarm clock. Yes, do away with a smartphone or tablet as a clock for your child. The bluelight from such electronics has been proven to keep people awake, and they’ll be tempted to play with it instead of sleeping. Buy an alarm clock and set it every night for the next morning, just like when you were in school!
  2. Pack their backpack with them. Double-check that your child has everything they need for school. Homework, supplies, projects, anything they may be bringing with them. It will ease your mind, and it will also teach them basic organization skills.
  3. Let them pack their lunch with you. Give them a say in what they have for lunch so they have something to look forward to in the day! No, that doesn’t mean packing candy and treats. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to go over some basic nutrition with them as well. Simply explain why they need to have some fruits with them, why carbs are important, and that they can still have a little treat after they eat their meal.
  4. Go over their weekly schedule with them at the beginning of each week. Inform them of any after-school activities they’ll have that week, as well as any other changes they may have to their schedule. For example, if you’re working late one day and they’re going to be picked up by their grandparents instead, now is a good time to let them know.
  5. Let them pick out their outfits (if they’re old enough, of course!). Creative freedom is important to kids. As long as they understand what makes a school appropriate outfit, let them express themselves how they see fit. Compliment them before they go to school to build their self-esteem!
  6. Keep it simple! Overly complicated and long routines are hard to keep track of, and will make school less fun for kids.

Originally posted 2022

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