How to start and end school days on a high note

By Sarah Earles, MS, LPC, NCC | September 15, 2023 

There is very little caregivers and parents can control about the school day: the teaching, the teacher; the other students, how the other students act; the weather, etc. Certainly, caregivers and parents have influence over some of these things when they choose a school and enroll a child. Day-to-day, they have little command over the activities and events of the school day. Caregivers and parents do have influence in their own homes, however. Starting and ending the day well there can make a big impact on functioning at school.

Ritual, routine, and structure can be very helpful to children, especially children from hard places. While unexpected events can fill school days, caregivers and parents can work to keep morning routines the same. Doing the same actions every morning can become ritual, resulting in feelings of achievement and positivity as the day begins (Le Cunff, n.d.; Raising Children, 2021 ). Children may also benefit from review of the day’s activities, especially if routine varies. This helps set the child up for success.

Mornings are also a great time to fill kids up with love and affection. Bryan Post suggests ten minutes of quality time in the morning (McMan, n.d.). This quality time might include sitting with the child as the child wakes or eats breakfast, listening to music together, and/or saying prayers. Home is a great place to give affirmation, especially if the child has learning or other differences (Petix, 2023). Often times a great start at home will have a more profound impact on a child than any in-school accommodation could.

Children need support not only before school, but also after school. Bryan Post suggests at least 20 minutes of afternoon attention (McMan, n.d.). Again, this could occur during routine activities such as snack or playtime (Grogan, n.d.; Norman, n.d.). It is best not to associate this quality time with tasks such as chores or homework, as these demands can dysregulate the child. The idea is to fill up the child’s need for love and affection before making additional requests.

As the day ends, there is room for more positive quality time. Bryan Post suggests at least 10 minutes here (McMan, n.d.). This might include bedtime activities like bathing, massage, reading, singing, or snuggling, depending on the age and needs of the child (Soderlund, n.d.). Ensuring adequate sleep is vital to best school performance, and a nurturing nighttime routine can help with this (Suni & Vyas, 2023). A good night of sleep helps start the next morning at home well, too.

Will a positive, nurturing home life eradicate school struggles for a child? No. The child most likely needs support from multiple sources, and via multiple interventions. Caregivers and parents can advocate for these. In the meantime, though, caregivers and parents can positively impact their children by starting and ending the day well at home.

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There is very little caregivers and parents can control about the school day: the teaching, the teacher; the other students, how the other students act; the weather, etc. Certainly, caregivers and parents have influence over some of these things when they choose a school and enroll a child. Day-to-day, they have little command over the activities and events of the school day. Caregivers and parents do have influence in their own homes, however. Starting and ending the day well there can make a big impact on functioning at school.

Ritual, routine, and structure can be very helpful to children, especially children from hard places. While unexpected events can fill school days, caregivers and parents can work to keep morning routines the same. Doing the same actions every morning can become ritual, resulting in feelings of achievement and positivity as the day begins (Le Cunff, n.d.; Raising Children, 2021 ). Children may also benefit from review of the day’s activities, especially if routine varies. This helps set the child up for success.

Mornings are also a great time to fill kids up with love and affection. Bryan Post suggests ten minutes of quality time in the morning (McMan, n.d.). This quality time might include sitting with the child as the child wakes or eats breakfast, listening to music together, and/or saying prayers. Home is a great place to give affirmation, especially if the child has learning or other differences (Petix, 2023). Often times a great start at home will have a more profound impact on a child than any in-school accommodation could.

Children need support not only before school, but also after school. Bryan Post suggests at least 20 minutes of afternoon attention (McMan, n.d.). Again, this could occur during routine activities such as snack or playtime (Grogan, n.d.; Norman, n.d.). It is best not to associate this quality time with tasks such as chores or homework, as these demands can dysregulate the child. The idea is to fill up the child’s need for love and affection before making additional requests.

As the day ends, there is room for more positive quality time. Bryan Post suggests at least 10 minutes here (McMan, n.d.). This might include bedtime activities like bathing, massage, reading, singing, or snuggling, depending on the age and needs of the child (Soderlund, n.d.). Ensuring adequate sleep is vital to best school performance, and a nurturing nighttime routine can help with this (Suni & Vyas, 2023). A good night of sleep helps start the next morning at home well, too.

Will a positive, nurturing home life eradicate school struggles for a child? No. The child most likely needs support from multiple sources, and via multiple interventions. Caregivers and parents can advocate for these. In the meantime, though, caregivers and parents can positively impact their children by starting and ending the day well at home.

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References

Grogan, A. (n.d.) 4 simple after school routines that will cut out chaos. Your Kids Table. https://yourkidstable.com/after-school-routine/

Le Cunff, A. (n.d.) Habits, routines, rituals. Ness Labs. https://nesslabs.com/habits-routines-rituals

McMan. (n.d.) Connection. https://mcmancalgary.ca/connection/

Norman, R. (n.d.). Stress-free after school routines your kids will love. A Mother Far From Home. https://amotherfarfromhome.com/after-school-routines/

Petix, L. (Host). (2023, June 18). Giftedness and neurodiversity with Caitlin Greer Meister (no. 80). [Audio podcast]. Sensory W.I.S.E. solutions podcast for parents. https://theotbutterfly.com/gifted/sws-podcast/

Raising Children. (2021, August 9). Morning routine for school: Tips. RaisingChildren.Net.Au. https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/school-learning/school-homework-tips/morning-routine-for-school

Soderlund, A. (n.d.). The best bedtime routine for your child according to science: Plus solutions for nighttime anxiety. Nurture Thrive. https://nurtureandthriveblog.com/bedtime-routine-for-kids/

Suni, E., & Vyas, N. (2023, March 1). Improve your child’s school performance with a good night’s sleep. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep/sleep-and-school-performance

References

Grogan, A. (n.d.) 4 simple after school routines that will cut out chaos. Your Kids Table. https://yourkidstable.com/after-school-routine/

Le Cunff, A. (n.d.) Habits, routines, rituals. Ness Labs. https://nesslabs.com/habits-routines-rituals

McMan. (n.d.) Connection. https://mcmancalgary.ca/connection/

Norman, R. (n.d.). Stress-free after school routines your kids will love. A Mother Far From Home. https://amotherfarfromhome.com/after-school-routines/

Petix, L. (Host). (2023, June 18). Giftedness and neurodiversity with Caitlin Greer Meister (no. 80). [Audio podcast]. Sensory W.I.S.E. solutions podcast for parents. https://theotbutterfly.com/gifted/sws-podcast/

Raising Children. (2021, August 9). Morning routine for school: Tips. RaisingChildren.Net.Au. https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/school-learning/school-homework-tips/morning-routine-for-school

Soderlund, A. (n.d.). The best bedtime routine for your child according to science: Plus solutions for nighttime anxiety. Nurture Thrive. https://nurtureandthriveblog.com/bedtime-routine-for-kids/

Suni, E., & Vyas, N. (2023, March 1). Improve your child’s school performance with a good night’s sleep. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep/sleep-and-school-performance