Prepare Your Child for Back to School by Establishing School Routines

This time of year, parents are starting to think about getting their kids ready for school. Preparing children for back to school success involves thinking about setting routines before the beginning of school.


Spend time over the next few weeks with the family making a morning routine chart so that that everyone understands the routine and expectations to ensure things go smoothly.


  1. Get dressed (picture of clothes)
  2. Eat breakfast (picture of food)
  3. Brush teeth (picture of toothbrush or bathroom)
  4. Get ready to leave (picture of shoes, bus, car, backpack and/or lunch)

With a younger child, you can use pictures along with the words. For an older child, have them write out the order in which they would like to complete their morning. Place the list around the house or in a central location. Getting the children involved in this routine will help provide them with some responsibility and commitment to follow through with the routine within that first crazy week of school.


Every family will have a different after school routine. It is best to determine what works for your family. Activities will change on the nights where extra-curricular activities are involved, but remember to plan the routine for those days as well. One idea is to plan ahead and create a homework center.

Using a designated area with limited distractions provides the child with a familiar and predictable area to complete their homework. Discuss with the child what materials they will require to set the area for homework success.

Add talking with your children about their day to the after school routine. Dinnertime, driving to the next event, or getting ready for bed are great times to ask specific questions about the child’s day. Avoid asking general questions like, “How was your day?” Instead, ask questions with purpose, such as:

  • “What was your funniest part of the day?”
  • “What was your favourite part of the day?”
  • “Can you teach me something you learned today?”

These questions should give a more specific answer rather than typical short answers, such as “fine.” or “I don’t know.”


Where have all the books gone? Time to gear up your child’s literacy and thinking skills. Get back into reading books before bed. Where can reading fit into your nighttime routine? This may require turning off the electronics and going to bed a little early in order to have time to read before the exhaustion sets in. Talk about the pictures, events and engage the child to predict what will come next in the story.

Before going to bed, have a chat with your child about the events for the next morning and go over the routine one more time. No matter the age, getting into the habit of talking about the next day helps mentally prepare them and also provides parents with an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary.


Once the school schedule is organized, it’s time to get your child’s thinking skills jump started! Here’s an idea to impress your child’s teacher on the first of school or the Speech-Language Pathologist the first day back to therapy: prepare children for the popular question, “What did you do all summer?” Open-ended questions are more difficult to answer. There may be too many details to discuss. In order to avoid answers such as, “I don’t know”, or “I don’t remember”, completing the activities below will give children the opportunity to response in detail since it will be rehearsed and familiar.

  • For younger children, develop a photo album of the pictures from different events throughout the summer. Make a photo album and have the children discuss what they see in each picture. Are they able to recall what came before or after the picture?
  • Recalling the events which took place all summer. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it! Once the child has selected a special vacation they can write or discuss all of the events of the vacation. Using the five W’s (e.g. ‘Who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’) guarantees a very descriptive story.

If you would like more tips and activities to prepare children for school success leave me a message in the comment section and I will certainly provide more ideas.

Teri Lynam is a registered Speech-Language Pathologist with ten years of experience working in the field of communication disorders. She has a special interest in early language, literacy development, acquired brain injury, motor speech and resonance disorders. Teri is committed to providing individualized family-centered therapy in a fun and supportive environment.