Creating Your Daily School Year Routine

Getting A Plan Down Will Make Sure Your Plan Happens

Mom and Dad plan their daily calendar
Parents can coordinate together to make sure the plan will work for the whole family. Fuse via Getty Images

"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail."  - Benjamin Franklin

While your child may not receive failing grades because you didn't create a daily plan for the school year, creating a plan is an important step to helping today's modern busy families and school children thrive.  By creating a plan, you will see when you are busy and when you have pockets of time to use for other activities.  You will be able to anticipate the challenging busy days and prepare for them.  It will also help you to fall into a routine, and to know when he routine is changed.  Adults and children alike do better when they know what they can expect in their time ahead.  Having a plan alleviates a sense of uneasiness about the future, and helps to ensure that activities actually get done.

The internet is full of specific organizational plans that are supposed to help everyone.  The thing is, not every method is right for everyone.  A planning app may promise to keep you from forgetting any appointments in the future, but if you are still a paper and pencil kind of person, an app will not help you.

These are the steps that I have identified for creating a daily routine for school parents.  It takes you through process rather than telling you exactly what to do.  It starts with a bigger picture and moves to smaller, yet important details.

Pick The Right Organizer

newspaper and mobile device users. Tetra Images

Only you can really decide whether to use a large family wall calendar, a paper calendar, an app for a mobile device, or some other system.  Think about what you will use, and what will be the best fit for your family.  A large wall calendar will be visible to the whole family, allowing everyone to see it.  It can be edited easily if it is written in pencil or a dry erase board.  The wall calendar isn't portable, so if you would need to check it repeatedly throughout the day a different system may work better.

A paper planner is portable and easily editable.  You can buy pre made planners or prepare your own custom sheets on a computer.  It would be with you when you need it.  you can record information in pencil to make ti easily editable.  You would not need to worry about charging it or having signal strength to check it.  A possible downside is that it is not automatically shared with all family members.

Computer and mobile apps have a degree of customizability.  Many programs allow you to create a set of personal entries and shareable entries. If you have a family of tech savvy suers, they will benefit forma centrally shared and portable calendar.  This may not be a good option for families with children who are old enough to read a calendar but do not have a personal mobile device or family members that prefer pen and paper.

Record All Of The Major Hard Dates For the School Year

Oksana Struk

The first thing to get into your organizer system is all of those dates on the school calendar that are unlikely to change.  These are the dates that you have no control over and that you must make sure you are aware of.  The first and last day of school, when holiday breaks are, any early release days, the dates for  parent teacher conferences, registration dates, and any other dates or times that you know of for your child's school.

Without writing these down in a place where you will be reminded of them, it is easy to forget about some of these days.  When I worked in a public middle school I would see very involved well-meaning parents pull up to the school on staff work days - days when the children did not come to school.  These parents were so in the habit of bringing their children to school and they hadn't realized there was no school that day.  I am sure I would have been one of those parents if I hadn't worked at the school myself!  Save yourself some trouble (and embarrassment in front of your child) and get these dates down in a place where you will be reminded of them.

Add In The Daily Hard Block Activities

Roberto Westbrook

Now we can get into your daily plan.  Add to your organizer all of the busy times that are set in stone.  Things like what time you will be taking your children to and from school or when they need to be at the bus stop.   This is also the time to include extracurricular activity or other activity times.  This may include soccer practice, robotics club meetings, and special out of school therapy appointments for children or teens with special needs.  This is also the time that you can write down when these regular appointments start, end or will not be held at their regular meeting time.  

Once you have this down in your organizer, you can see the blocks of time you really have available for other important family activities.

Time To Add In The Important But Moveable Activities

Sam Bloomberg Rissman/Blend Images

 When will your prepare and eat dinner?  When and where will your child work on their homework?  What about getting ready for the next day?  What about bedtime?  Setting aside time to for the next days preparations will make sure that you actually prepare for tomorrow.  These routine tasks are critical to the day to day operations of a smooth running household, the kind that helps all of the family members feel less stress and more productive.  

By this point, you may be wondering if you have any time left in your day to make sure you get food on the table, let alone get ready for tomorrow.  Since you have a written plan, you will be able to see the days where you need to have a quickly prepared meal and streamline your getting ready for tomorrow plan.  

This is also a good point in the daily plan creation process to write down when you plan to check your child's backpack.  When and how often you do this depends heavily on your child's school teacher and the age of your child.  Many schools and teachers have a preferred way of sending home regular communication.  Some will send home a newsletter on the same day each week, while others may send an email.  The younger a child is, the less they are able to remember what happened at school once they arrive home.  Combine your knowledge of your child's age and your school's communication methods to decide how often you will go through your child's backpack to look for newsletters, permissions slips, and other school communications that your child may have forgotten about.  Even middle school age children often need a parent to actually look through their materials occasionally, so don't worry if you think you are being to overbearing on an elementary school age child.  

Besides, looking through your child's backpack can tell you a lot about their organization habits and whether or not they are bringing home all of their homework and materials.

Include Activities For Togetherness and Your Personal Values

Teen and Mom Laugh Together. Jamie Grill

Spending quality time with your child is probably the most important time in this whole list.  It only appears at the end of the process because it is time that you can choose, where the other times are things that must be done on a schedule.  If it helps, view at as icing on the cake.  You have spent so much more time getting all of the have to-do's done that know you can enjoy time with your child.  Set aside time for regular daily conversation, perhaps over dinner.  Set aside an evening each week to play board games, outdoor games, or other ways of spending time together.  If you have more then one child, try to make sure each child gets a few hours of one on one time with you at least once a month.  

Modern family life is very busy.  By scheduling time in your days, you make sure that you are actually spending time with your child rather than just losing them in the daily grind.

Have a Place For Upcoming Ideas

Mike Kemp

 I often have great ideas about things I can do far in the future. These are ideas like making sure to plant a fall garden with my children, and I will think of this in the spring.  This might also be something I would want to do on a future vacation, or maybe an idea I had during the summer I would like to share with the PTA/PTO in the fall when school begins.

Rather than just losing this thought, be sure to have a place to record it.  I have a paper calendar that has all of the months on it, it takes up two 8x11 sheets of paper.  Each month has about a 4" square.  I write these ideas down in the month for which they will be useful, and I check the calendar for these ideas when I update my planner.  Reminders in computer calendar programs could also be used, or even post-it notes placed on future months of paper systems.  

Set aside time to Update

Zero Creatives

 Don't count on you automatically remembering to write down new events as you find out about them.  While that is a good practice and you should do that if you can, a few events may slip by you.  Set aside time once a week to update your organizer system.  If you go through your child's backpack once a week, this might be a good time to go through your planner or calendar as well.

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