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Schedules, routines and school ... oh my!

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My sister text me a picture at the end of June when she walked into her local retail store and found the aisles stocked with brightly colored school supplies for the next year. Her comment: "Already? My kiddos are still in school!" Now, to clarify, my nephews live in a part of the country where snow day makeups often put them in school until the latter part of June, but her point is still true to most parents. It seems that school just let out and now here we are again, ready to fill those backpacks and little minds with knowledge.

School can often bring a mix of emotions, from excited and nervous, to overwhelmed and possibly a touch of relief. Regardless of where you and your student sit on this range of emotions, finding a positive routine for your family is a key element to your young learner's academic and social success. Providing a clear schedule for children with consistent routines can help build healthy habits and predictability for students.

"Routines and daily schedules help you and your child. You both know what to expect each day. Routines can also improve your child's behavior and your relationship with your child," according to the article by Centers for Disease Control: Essential for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers. (https://www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/structure/index.html). Sometimes it can be difficult to set up these elements of a day as families are very busy and juggle many things all summer long.

According to Vanderbilt University and the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) in their presentation Helping Children Understand Routines and Classroom Schedules, "the terms routines and schedules are often used interchangeably. (However), schedules represent the big picture -- main activities to be completed daily, (and) routines represent the steps done to complete the schedule." (http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu).

Figuring out a positive routine for going to bed on time and for getting ready in the morning can help even the most hectic of days go smoother and set your child up for a stress free day of learning. Eating meals at a table most nights and having clear, developmentally appropriate expectations for each child is both assuring for your kiddos and also a mental high-five for parents in the ever challenging role as caregivers.

However your days may go, try to find a schedule and routines that work for your family. Maybe start each day with a question like, "What do you think will surprise you today?" and end the day with "What made your teacher smile today?" So when you see those school supplies lining the shelves, you not only smile, but maybe even do a little "Whoo-hoo! Here we go!"

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