Holly Shannon, M.A.T., Elementary School Teacher

Fall into Great Patterns this Autumn

School’s up and running. Your child is getting back into the swing of the school year, yet…does it still feel like you’re struggling to get it all together? Here are 3 easy ways to get your young child into a predictable schedule, and improve his school day as well.


First, set up patterns. Each day, when your child gets home from school he should know exactly where to put his backpack and homework. For this pattern, or any pattern to work, you and your child must talk about it, practice it, model the incorrect way, then model the correct pattern many times. Make it a game. You will be able to check any necessary papers daily, and every morning, your child will know exactly where to find his backpack.


Along with the pattern of a daily backpack check-in spot, keep a predictable routine, bed time and wake time for your child.  Small children need about 11 hours of sleep per night, which often means bedtime is before dark in the early fall months. Even though it may still be light outside, and your child might not feel sleepy, she needs a predictable bedtime in order to feel her best for school the next day.  This is often very hard at the beginning of a school year….but stand your ground. You and your child will benefit from the predictability and sufficient sleep.


Get your child into the habit of helping to pack her daily lunch and snacks. When children have a choice between types of fruit, for example, they are much more likely to actually eat their lunch.  Be specific when asking your child to help you pack the lunch.  Narrow down the choices to 2 or 3 per item. For example, ask, “Would you rather eat a turkey or peanut butter sandwich?”  Children like having some input in their lunches….and they’re learning great nutrition too! This will significantly decrease the amount of food children throw away at school because they don’t like what is packed in their lunch.


It’s only October, but now is a great time to set up successful patterns for the entire school year.  Choose a backpack spot, keep a predictable sleep schedule, and elicit your child’s help in packing her lunch. As soon as you get these routines set, you’ll have a happier child, a more successful school year, and a calmer home.  

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