Family Matters: Develop back-to-school routines for your child

Diana Boggia

Back to school! Children across America are heading back to school — some little ones for the very first time, some older ones for the last time. As excitement builds with purchases of new clothes and school supplies, prepare your child by providing a calm, nightly routine that will set him up for success. Toddler through teen, he can’t do it without you.

Bedtime: This is one area that may need to be modified quickly, as many children stay up later than usual during summer. A well-rested child can perform well. A tired child will not be capable of performing to his best ability.

Sleep is critical for brain functioning and emotional regulation. Even if your child resists going to bed earlier than accustomed, provide the support he needs to make that happen. Develop a bedtime routine that works for you and your child, which will minimize resistance.

Stories and some quiet time together provide a comfortable setting for transition for younger ones. Allow your child to gather books to take to bed, and provide a bedtime basket, with a bathroom pass, a one-last-hug pass, a flashlight and a small bottle of water. Whether you have a toddler, ’tween or teen, bedtime routines are important, as their bodies grow strong with a healthy rhythm.

Help with homework: Many children resist doing their homework immediately after school, and some parents believe their child needs to run and play after a long day in the classroom.

Other parents know that their child loses steam and focus as the day wears on, so they offer a healthy snack and whatever support is needed, to ensure after-school homework success.

Children across America are involved in after-school activities, clubs and sporting events, which enrich their lives. However, getting home late, night after night after a practice or sporting event presents its own scheduling problems.

You can follow a routine and provide expectations that will ensure that your child is set up for success. You know your child best, so follow whatever schedule works for you and your child. Being a student is your child’s occupation. His work is his schoolwork.

Support that by filling a “homework basket” with the tools he needs to do his job well and can locate readily. Teach your child to place all of his work in his backpack, before television privileges, so he learns organizational skills early. Take it a step further: Encourage your child to place his backpack by the door, ready to go.

Teach organization and preparation: Start early in the evening with preparations for the next day. Watch the weather together and choose appropriate clothing. Choosing clothes for school the night before instills planning and organizational skills.

Unfortunately choosing clothes also can become a struggle for children with sensory discomfort. Offer two choices, both of which you find acceptable, and let your child choose what he wants to wear the next day. Limiting choices makes choice-making easier.

House rules: Start this school year with House Rules that are posted. Draw pictures for young children to identify. Decide on rules best for your child, even if they may be difficult for you to enforce.

For example: “Homework first, then TV.” Draw a picture prompt of a book and a pencil, then a TV. Although ‘tweens or teens may not need picture cues, it is helpful if they write the house rules on the poster. When rules are posted, there is no miscommunication. Think about other house rules that will help your child to learn and grow, no matter his age.

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting expert. Send your child-rearing questions to or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH 44702. Find parenting resources at her website,