The kids are getting ready to go back to school and that mean homework, soccer practice, dance lessons- and waking up early enough to catch the school bus. Sound stressful? Linda Morgan, editor of ParentMap and author of the book Beyond Smart will tell us how to ease our kids back into the school routine.

What do parents find the most difficult about getting their kids back into school mode?

Getting them up early. Everyone knows how important a good night s sleep is to students helps them think better, concentrate and be more attentive and alert. So start going to bed a bit earlier each night and getting up earlier. Encourage them to spend some quiet time before bed. They also worry about the morning routine. Have a checklist: brush teeth, sash your face, gather the supplies, get your backpack ready and place it by the door.

Should we expect our kids to be organized?

Yes but we need to keep our expectations age-appropriate. Kids as young as 5 can pack their soccer or ballet bags. When the school year begins, find a place for them to stash backpacks, after-school sports equipment, other odds and ends from school and papers when they walk in the door. Older kids should be responsible for getting themselves ready in the mornings and keeping track of their own things.

How can parents and kids manage all of those after-school activities?

Downsize them. Does your 8-year-old really need to play on the soccer team that practices across town during rush hour? Consider each activity your child is signed up for, the time it takes, the expense, the driving distance. Weigh that against the skills and enjoyment your child is gaining from participating. Discussing your family s values and which activities most closely match those values can help you decide which activities you eliminate. Maybe you ll even get to share a family dinner.

How can you help your child get organized?

  • Clear the clutter: Before school starts, spend a day organizing your child s storage. Help your kids let go of old toys and outdated interests. Give away old clothes and shoes that don t fit. Do it with your kids and not for them.

  • Create a launching pad: Set up a spot near the door for items that need to go to school. Gather books, instruments, sports equipment and supplies for the next day. Make lunches the night before to save time in the morning. Have a set schedule: shower, dress, breakfast, and chores. Put breakfast supplies within kids reach to make things easier.

  • Set the schedule: Set up a central family calendar where everyone with see it. Record everyone s activities appointments in a different color marker. Block off family time at least once a week.

  • Create a homework plan: No TV, no Facebook, no tweeting. Make sure you provide a consistent study space and a quiet environment. Very young children need guidance with assignments. But don t do your child s homework for him or her.
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