Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

​​​Success in School Issue12345

Establishing a Routine

We all do better when we know what to expect and what’s expected of us. Ambiguity creates conflict in our minds. What should we do? When should we do it? Should we do it at all? Established routines allow us to complete important tasks on time, efficiently and accurately. The same goes for children during the school year.

The Bedtime Routine

Getting younger children to go to bed so they get enough sleep to get up for school on time can be a real chore. Here are some tips to help your children get to bed on time and without complaining:

  • Create a bedroom environment that is conducive to sleep:
    • Remove electronics from your child’s bedroom, or make sure they’re turned off for the night (smartphone, television, videogames, etc.).
    • Keep the bedroom cool and dark. If your child wants some light, use one nightlight.
    • If your child enjoys playing with toys when it’s time for bed, put the toys away at bedtime (store them in the closet with child-proof handles).
    • Keep it simple. Bedding and one security item (a stuffed animal or favorite blanket) are sufficient. Additional toys become extra sources of distraction at a time when you don’t want your child to be distracted.
  • Develop a bedtime routine:
    • Create a short routine before bedtime that involves quiet activities done in the same order every night. For example, have a snack, put on pajamas, brush teeth, go to the bathroom and read one book. It is important that this routine remains the same every night because the routine cues your child that bedtime is approaching.
    • The length of the routine depends upon how much time you have available in the evening. Every night, you should allocate roughly the same amount of time for this routine. If you are like most families, your evenings are busy; keeping the routine relatively short will ensure that you have enough time to complete it every night.

The Morning Routine

Getting younger children up and ready for school can be just as much of a chore as getting them to bed. Even teens can be difficult in this area.

As with bedtime, a routine should be established for mornings, too. Get children up at the same time every day. Have them get dressed, eat a healthy breakfast and brush their teeth (in that same order) before heading out the door. Lay out ground rules around electronics in the morning. For example, television is only allowed once you are up, dressed and have eaten. Once a morning routine is established, it will become second nature, and your entire household will be more efficient for it.

Homework requires its own routine. It should be done at the same time every day and in the same place — ideally before your child is allowed to enjoy any leisure activities. As with going to bed and getting up for school, once a homework routine is ​established, it will become second nature and help improve your child’s grades and self-esteem. If you need a refresher on homework routines, take a look back at Issue 3.

When your child gets “into the groove” and sticks with these routines, be sure to praise and reward them accordingly. You can eventually dial back rewards in a process known as “fading,” so your child won’t grow up expecting a reward every time they do something that should be done simply because it is part of being a normal, functioning, well-adjusted human being. But for now, a little praise can go a long way toward prompting good behavior.

Teaching Activity

Back-to-School Contract

Boys Town’s downloadable Back-to-School Contract lets everyone ​in your home know what’s expected of them when it comes to things like doing homework and getting ready for school. Download and print the contract, and call a family meeting. Once everyone has gathered, go over the contract so your children understand what they need to do in order to maintain privileges such as using smartphones and having access to vehicles. After the review, have everyone sign the contract, and place it in a prominent place, such as on the fridge or a corkboard.

Social Skill

Completing Tasks

As with following instructions, completing tasks is a basic social skill that will serve children throughout their adolescence and well into adulthood. It’s also an integral part of adhering to an established routine. Have your child complete the following steps when completing a task:

  1. Listen carefully to instructions or directions for the task.
  2. Gather the tools or materials needed for the task.
  3. Begin working carefully and neatly.
  4. Remain focused on the task until it is completed.
  5. Examine your work to make sure it is complete.
  6. Check back with the person who assigned you the task.

Coming up in Issue 5

Becoming an Involved Parent


Learning Who’s Teaching Your Children


Accepting Decisions of Authority

Read Our Guides        
Ask A Question