7 Tips for a Smooth School Routine

Back-to-school time! Check out these seven simple tips for a smooth school routine.

 7 Tips for a Smooth School Routine *Great list of tips
{7 tips for a smooth school routine} Create a School Prep Zone...How to do you foster independent children and still ensure your morning goes smoothly? Give your little ones tools for success. Show your kids that school and organization are important by creating a School Prep Zone that facilitates a morning routine. This quote dances in my mind:

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” Maria Montessori

Yesterday we discussed how we set-up a School Prep Zone:
– Sturdy hooks
for coats, jackets, and back packs.
- Cubicles or baskets for library books, lunch boxes, homework, gym shoes and more.

Click here for our 20 Top Picks,
a collection of adorable hooks and cublicles.

We all know that setting up the School Prep Zone is one thing, getting your child to use the area is another task!

I truly believe our job as parents is to raise independent and capable adults. This is a perfect opportunity to practice organization and responsibility.

Below are 7 tips for creating a successful routine:

  • Create habits. Have your child immediately hang their coat & backpack in the prep zone when they come home each day. Use this as an opportunity to have your child show you projects and homework they’ve done at school.
  • Use other activities as a reminder. Try to avoid harping on your child by asking, “Is your stuff for school ready yet?” too often. Instead wait for them to bring up opportunities to discuss it. Practice saying things like:
    –You’re welcome to watch TV after your school stuff is set for tomorrow.
    –You’re welcome to go to play with your friends after your school stuff is set for tomorrow.
    –You’re welcome to join us for dinner after your school stuff is set for tomorrow.
  • Be consistent. Prep for the next day of school the afternoon or evening before, rather than the morning of. Consider setting an alarm on your phone. If the school stuff doesn’t get taken care of by the kids, you will have a reminder to check-in with them before bed time.
  • Write a list together. Is your little one still missing items each day? Sit down and have *them* tell you what they need to have organized every night. Pop open MS Word and create a cheat sheet your child can use. Click here to see what our winter cheat sheet looks like (PDF). Simply create two columns on your Word doc, a few bullet points, copy & paste and voila!
  • Keep calm. Ha. Those are words every parent likes to hear at 8:15am. Remember, this is why you have your child prep their back pack the night before. My daughter has a tendency to whine, “I don’t know how to [fill in the blank].” Try this phrase in return, “Show me what you would do first if you did know how to do it.” This is also a great time to default back to the the list you’ve written together. Tell your child, “Get as many of the items on the list done as possible and then come get me if you still need help.”
  • {7 tips for a smooth school routine} Give em ice cream, ha!Verbalize emotional benefits. Set a good example and talk to yourself about the benefits of being organized. This can feel awkward at first, but the technique works well. For example, if you take a weekly yoga class, pack your gear the night before and when you leave for class, say something on the lines of, “It feels nice to have all my gear set and not to be rushed.” The other day I found myself saying, “Boy, I hate prepping taxes. They’re not even due until April, but it will feel nice to know it is done and out of the way early.” {blah}
  • Consider a reward. If your child cuts their prep time and reduces their morning whining, consider a reward. It can be something as simple as a sticker or something as adventurous as a quick hot cocoa from the drive through at Starbucks before school. Sometimes we get crazy and do pancakes and mini ice cream cones at McD’s!

Bonus Tip: One of the best ways to ensure your child utilizes the school prep zone is to get your child involved when designing the area:

What are mornings like at your house? What additional tips would you add to the list above? Let’s chat in the comments.

The best part of this approach is that it leaves more time in the morning for you to enjoy your kids. A calm morning allows you to savor the simple moments of childhood.

Image Credit via Flickr:
First Day of School and Wheels on the Bus by Kate Ter Haar
Backpack Fashion by Jens Rost
First Day of School by Dave & Margie Hill


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. says

    These are some great tips Zina, It made me realise that we have started young with Goblin, I am already teaching him to put his shoes and coat in their place so he knows where to find them next time he needs them. The verbalisation is also a really good idea. This morning I came down and in my head I was planning how long it would take to get ready and get out the door, but because I didn’t verbalise it, when I said to Goblin, “right its time to get dressed” he was horrified because I hadn’t prepared him for it. I’ll try your verbalising next time and see if it eases the transition.
    I’m pinning this to the Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board. Thanks for linking. Oh and I love the way you can insta tweet the Montessori quote, how fab is that!

  2. says

    Zina, great list. I’m not ready to start thinking about back to school yet, but it’s coming up no matter what I think about it! Being organized and prepared makes a HUGE difference.

  3. Wendi says

    Love the tip but I really love the quote about “show me how…” I am teach my son to tie his show and he alway says I don’t knuw how this is the perfect come back so he remembers the step;) thank you

  4. says

    My 5yo starts school Monday, so this is a super helpful list for me as a first-timer sending a little one to school. My daughter will LOVE sitting down to make a cheat sheet together, love that tip! Pinning now. :-)

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