Home Systems Set Up: How to Prepare for the School Year Launch in Your Home Environment

N.A.S.A. (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is doing a check of your child’s learning environment to make sure all systems are ready to support a successful launch. At school, they might look for the following:

________safe, caring school environment?
________building trusting connections between students, teachers, staff and families?
________stimulating, well-managed, and participatory classroom environment established?
________academic, physical, social and emotional developmentally-appropriate (challenging but not too challenging) curriculum ready?
________family culture represented in/through school displays and artifacts?
________additional learning supports ready if needed?
________learning tools, books and other resources ready for student exploration?
________clear routines and responsibilities?
________student and teacher plan for big emotions?

Now is the time to get our home prepared for learning success. You’ve purchased the school supplies, packed lunches and sent your children off to school. Teachers have had the time and space to thoughtfully prepare the learning environment to provide optimal conditions for your child to learn. Now, it’s our turn.

Though we know we play a critical role in our child’s learning success, it’s often unclear exactly what that role is or should be. On “Meet the Teacher” Night, we learn about what our children will be doing in school and how the teacher will guide them but little to nothing is mentioned about our roles and responsibilities in that equation. So where do we fit? What do we need to do? N.A.S.A. uses checklists for all of their rocket launches so that no detail is forgotten. After all, people’s lives are at stake. Similarly, our children’s education is critical to our family life and their future success. So with that in mind, here’s a checklist for us as we turn to our own home environment and figure out how we can best support our children’s learning.

Have we created…

________well-rehearsed routines with clearly defined responsibilities?
________healthy sleeping, eating and hygiene habits?
________an organized, well-equipped and calm working environment?
________a plan for managing big feelings?
________the mental space and discipline to listen when kids are ready to talk?

Well-rehearsed Routines with Clearly Defined Responsibilities

Whereas getting dressed by 10:00 a.m. may have been your casual summer routine, the school year requires an earlier morning with more tasks completed in a timely manner. This can be an enormous adjustment for children who have fallen into the slower-paced habits of summer. Pair this with the fact that they do not hold the same desire to get to school on time that you do and it can become a struggle fast and often. Here are my resources for setting up your routines so that each family member – even preschool age children – learn to take responsibility for their roles. Jobs get accomplished on time and your family can begin the day positively connecting with one another and setting the mood for a great day of learning! Check out these…

Home Routines
Whether the routine is your morning wake up, extracurriculars after school, or a family dinner, these ideas will help your plan for them to run smoothly.
Check out Refreshing Your Home Routines for the School Year.

Morning Routine
Check out this video short to help create A Smooth Morning Routine.

Healthy Sleeping, Eating and Hygiene Habits

Perhaps precisely because, as parents, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our kids get enough sleep, eat well and keep clean, those are the very issues that become power struggles. Kids know that they can wield control and so, they attempt to. They are numerous ways we can prompt a sense of responsibility and even, confidence in our kids as they learn to manage these critical life habits on their own. Here are some simple ideas…

Bedtime Routine
Getting enough sleep at night is vital to our ability to function and we know it’s vital for our kids to learn. Creating a consistent bedtime routine to ensure that your children get enough sleep is a significant way you can contribute to their school success! Check out The Opportunity of Bedtime.

If you have a “wiggle worm” who seems to derive newfound energy from your sleepy-time routine, here are some additional ideas. Check out Monkey Mind at Bedtime, Reflecting on Children’s Thinking.

Healthy Family Dinner
If you make dinner with your family a priority and spend time cooking a balanced meal, it can be unbelievably frustrating when your kids don’t want to eat or sit at the table with you. Check out this video short and actually enjoy your family dinner! Watch Creating an Enjoyable Family Dinner.

An Organized, Well-equipped and Calm Working Environment

Homework Routine
This article offers specific, simple ways to create a conducive environment for getting homework accomplished. Check out Getting Set Up for Homework Success. 

Organizing school supplies and having them at the ready to help homework time run smoothly can serve as a comfort when kids have to get their work accomplished. Here are some simple ideas for creating a well-equipped work space. Check out Tools for Supporting Learning At Home.

A Plan for Managing Big Feelings

Whether you have a kindergartener adjusting to an exhausting new schedule or a puberty-stricken teenager, there will be mood swings at the start of the school year. In fact, any age child will have to utilize extra self-management skills as they transition from summer to school. With any major change, you can expect emotions will run high. So what’s your plan? If you’ve discussed it and each have a plan for calming down, for finding some space, and for talking about your feelings, you’ll be ready when upset reigns. Here are some helpful resources.

Big Feelings Plan
Engage your family in creating a plan for when you are really angry, frustrated or fearful. Check out the Family Emotional Safety Plan and be sure to print off the template that can guide support your plan creation.

Safe Base
Establishing a safe base that is comforting and for your child only is a great way to offer respite when he/she is upset. Read about this simple way to help your child learn to self-soothe. Check out Home Base – Creating a Safe Haven for Calming Down.

Listening When Kids Are Ready to Talk

It can take great discipline and understanding to listen when kids need to talk. They often will shut down when we are ready like right after school when we want to learn about their day. But after they’ve had a chance to rest and eat a snack, they may be eager to discuss challenges they’ve had. The idea of a parent as a servant leader can offer a helpful lens through which to see our roles. We are facilitators of development and often, our ability to listen to our children is critical in order to fulfill that role and promote their success. Check out Parents as Servant Leaders.

Working on your home systems can offer your child a sense of security as he deals with the challenges of school. He will understand his roles and responsibilities. He’ll know how to take care of his emotions. He will feel organized and ready to deal with the homework coming his way. Here’s to a successful launch sequence this school year!

2 Comments on “Home Systems Set Up: How to Prepare for the School Year Launch in Your Home Environment”

  1. I wish I would have read this a week ago & I could have included a little spot on what to do at home to support our day at school. Add it to the list for next year! Thanks for writing such an outstanding blog – to navigate both my home and work life! MJ

    • Ha! Yikes – why do I feel so busted? I didn’t know that you read my blog! 🙂 Well, thank you, Mrs. Johnson. I appreciate you reading and for your kind words!!!!! And yes, you are more than welcome to use any of my stuff now and in the future. I write because I am constantly trying to figure it all out so it helps me – and hopefully others to organize and make sense of it all! I want to be a good partner to the school – to you! I know if I work at it, everyone will benefit. We both commented (Jason and I) that we loved that you shared photos of kids getting excited about learning with the bridge building experiment and connected us right back to our kids through our desk notes on parent-teacher night. What an awesome beginning! Thanks for your comment and for all you do! Looking forward to a great year ahead! – JM

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