Getting students back in the school year routine

Social worker says start right now

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Summer has flown by and parents are gearing up to go back to school. Duval County students start on August 19th and Clay County starts on August 13th which leaves just a few more days of summer time freedom before the school year routines kick back in.

With the school year fast approaching many parents may be wondering how to transition back into the more hectic school year schedule. We're talking about how to make that change as smooth as possible with licensed social worker and director of Residential Programs at Daniel, Rebecca VanDellen.

VanDellen says there are a number of things parents can do to help their kids make that transition easily.

First, Bedtime routine. VanDellen says the night before school starts isn't the time for a drastic adjustment to the bedtime routine. Instead, she says ease children back into a school year routine and those earlier sleep schedules gradually.

"They're not going to like it after the late nights during the summer," VanDellen says. "But it will keep them from being miserable the first few weeks of school."

She says during the last two weeks of summer, re-introduce a school year bedtime. If you haven't started yet, she suggests starting tonight! And begin waking late sleepers earlier and earlier, closer to the hour they'll need to rise when school begins.

VanDellen admits mornings can be hectic for families with children. She says there are a few things you can do to make sure you avoid chaos and planning ahead really makes the morning go much smoother.

First, VanDellen suggests laying out children's clothing the night before.

"This is a huge way to cut out morning stress," VanDellen says. "Let your kids help choose their outfits, or if they are old enough they can choose their outfits themselves."

Another idea, have backpacks packed and ready and scan backpacks for missing homework, projects or library books the night before.

"Make sure musical instruments or sports bags are packed and ready to go," VanDellen says. "Again this is a huge way to make sure everyone gets out the door with as little stress as possible. If everything is packed and ready by the door, you won't lose time in the morning searching for missing items!"

Another thing that can really help is making a practice run before the first day of school VanDellen says.

"The first day of school is no time to find out it takes ten minutes, not five, to walk to the bus stop," VanDellen says. "Bus riders will need to be familiar with the location of the bus stop in print. Let them take a copy in the backpack, so they won't be nervous trying to remember their new bus number. You can post the bus schedule on a calendar at home to prevent a missed bus."

Another idea from VanDellen, allow extra time on the first day of school because it's always busier than you think it will be.

Organization is a big part of preparedness VanDellen says. Here are some ideas to be ready:

· Calendar Central
Create a central area for all family calendars and schedules. You'll need a family event calendar to track after-school activities, school programs and volunteer work. Add specialized calendars and schedules, and you have it: a one-stop shop for family time management.

· Plan Lunches
Create a list of school lunch ideas at the start of the school year, that way you won't be left wondering what to pack. There are lists online of great ideas to keep those lunches creative all the way through the school year.

· Create good homework habits
Make sure the room your child studies in is quiet, has plenty of light, and has schools supplies close at hand. Remove distractions by turning off the television and discouraging social phone calls during homework time. Setting a regular time and sticking to it helps children complete their homework assignments.