August 13, 2021

Our Works of Charity / David Bethuram

Steps to help your children back into a school routine

David Bethuram

As the summer comes to a close and school gets back into session, here are a couple quick reminders to help make the transition from the beach to the classroom easier for you and your child.

Validation: Let your child know that his nervous or apprehensive feelings about the start of school are normal. All kids—and adults!—have a hard time getting back into the routine of the school year. The knowledge that he or she is not alone in this experience will help your child feel he’s being heard and understood.

Morning routines: A common change that occurs as we begin the school year is a new morning routine. To help your child be successful, discuss what her morning routine will look like during the school year. This way, your child knows what will be happening and has clear expectations that are valuable to him or her under the time constraints of getting ready for school.

Provide your child with simple, well-defined and easy steps for his or her routine so that they have a clear idea of what you expect so that it’s easy to follow along with you! Having an easy-to-reference schedule, maybe with pictures, can engage a child and provide a wonderful visual guide for what they need to do next. Giving specific praise when they complete each lets them know that you love what you’re seeing. This will increase your child’s chances of success in the future and helps build self-esteem.

Homework: Another transition that can be rough after a summer break is completing homework. Like the morning routine, provide your child with a structured schedule that can help them stay focused and motivated. Completing homework as soon as school is over takes advantage of the daylight hours, and continuous parental support provides encouragement, motivation and assistance when needed. Snacks are a great way to keep your child’s energy up while he or she works through those tough math problems.

Of course, some children have active schedules, with team sports, music classes or afterschool clubs, which can make engaging in homework more difficult. Letting your child know that you understand the hard work he or she is putting in and being ready with frequent positive feedback for their effort can help motivate him to get homework done.

Bedtime: Bedtime is one of the hardest transitions. Children may be accustomed to going to sleep later and/or waking up later during the summer, so a new school schedule can be difficult to get acclimated to. As with the morning routine, having a nighttime schedule can assist in creating a structure for your child. Set your child up for success with clear expectations, simple step-by-step instructions and praise at the completion of each step.

Additionally, visual reminders can help your child have something to refer to as they go about her routine. Most kids want more time watching their favorite TV show or finishing that last level of a video game. Setting time limits can be a great way to put a boundary around the winding-down time that they need each evening.

And if you find that these transitions are harder than expected or find yourself needing any additional help or support, the doors at one of our Catholic Charities agencies are always open!

(David Bethuram is executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. E-mail him at

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