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School Days 'Top 10 Tips for Establishing a Good Routine

Teachers know that children thrive in an environment with
routines, boundaries and rules. Unfortunately, parents often
forget it! And yet by establishing good routines and
encouraging children to help you maintain them, you have an
opportunity to set a pattern and a discipline that will stay
with your children for the rest of their lives. You will
make school days easier and far less stressful, reduce the
chances of starting your day late or dragging on forever
with the homework, put an end to nagging and shouting, and
have happier, more relaxed kids.

Here are 10 tips for establishing a solid, school day

1.Lay the breakfast table the night before

Put everything out apart from perishables. If you keep all
your breakfast things in one cupboard or one area of the
kitchen this routine will be easier to establish, and older
children can take it in turns to do it.

2.Put out your clothes the night before

Lay out a complete set of clothes for each child, checking
them as you do it. Older children should do this themselves
- you can double check when you say goodnight. Then if
something is missing (or shoes need polishing) you have time
to put it right. Lay your own clothes out too!

3.Brush teeth at the kitchen sink

Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste for each child in the
kitchen and brush teeth at the kitchen sink immediately
after breakfast. It may not be perfect for the house-proud,
but if you send your child out of your sight to do a chore
in the morning, you lose control. If you lose control, he
may start dawdling.

4.Set up base camp

Establish a "base camp" where the children keep all their
school things. You will need room for kit bags, satchels,
swimming bags, sports equipment, ballet bags, library books
and whatever else the kids need! Provide at least one hook
per child for their coats (in our house kids must hang coats
up as soon as they take them off) and a basket or box for
school shoes (in our house kids must put shoes in the box as
soon as they take them off too 'sometimes they do!)
basket or box for each child can be used as a place to put
anything that needs to go to school 'gloves, letters to
teachers, music, library books etc. Everything is in its
place and ready to go out the door first thing in the
morning without any fuss.

5.Make a list

Fill out a schedule of what is needed at school on each day
and pin it up at "base camp". Check each morning before you
walk out the door that you have the appropriate kit. You
will find a school week planner to print here:

6.Nail up a notice board

Keep a notice board at "base camp" so that you can pin up
reminders, invitations, school menus or whatever else you
need to keep tabs on.

7.Do it now!

If anything comes home from school that requires your
attention, do it immediately. Fill out forms and put them
straight back into the satchel. Write dates into your diary
there and then, and reply the same day too. If you postpone
it, you will forget it!

8.Give homework a home

Establish a place and time for doing homework and stick to
it. Keep dictionaries and other necessary books nearby, as
well as a spare set of pencils, rulers and other stationery
you might need. Make sure that homework is put back into
satchels as soon as it is completed and that satchels are
returned to "base camp" straightaway. Get out a kitchen
timer if kids are reluctant to start (or finish!)

9.Be prepared

If your car is running short of petrol (gas), fill it up on
the way home from school in the afternoon rather than
panicking the following morning! As you drive home, run a
mental check on whether you have the necessary supplies for
dinner, and breakfast. Nothing makes kids more miserable in
the morning than an empty fridge.

10.Get ahead

Set your alarm to wake you up 10 minutes earlier than usual.
You will be amazed at how much more in control that 10
minutes will make you feel. And finally, leave for school 5
minutes early. Arriving early takes away an enormous amount
of stress and will put your children in the right mood for

Are you convinced? Start initiating some routines in your
school days and you and your kids will feel the benefits
very quickly. Making sure that your kids feel comfortable
and in control before they get to school gives them the best
possible start to a school day. And once they get used to
afternoon and evening routines for homework and preparation
for the day ahead, nighttimes become more peaceful too.

"We first make our habits,
and then our habits make us."
John Dryden

(c) Lindsay Small 2005

About the Author
Lindsay Small is the creator and editor of Activity Village
- providing the ultimate one-stop resource for parents and
teachers looking to educate and entertain their kids. Visit
the website at or subscribe
to the free newsletter at

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