August 29, 2018 - Sam's TOP 10 BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS

One or two weeks before the first day of school, begin to slowly adjust to a reasonable school night bedtime routine.


Research shows us that sleep is essential to learning, emotional regulation and overall health.


Many teenagers are sleep deprived and this is significantly evident during the school year when early mornings and demanding routines become established.


Make a family plan to reign in bedtime by 15 mins each night until a 8-10 hour sleep pattern is established. It’s SO important. Like, really.


The week before school begins, sit down as a family and determine when and where your weekly family meeting will happen throughout the school year.


Purposefully schedule it on the family calendar (see tip #3). At Kaizen, we call this S.P.O.T time and it’s the cure for LMS (Last Minute Syndrome!).


It looks something like this:


SPOT = Sunday (or Saturday) Planning Organizing Time -and it only takes 15 mins a week!

This meeting is an informal gathering (usually on Sundays) where everyone shares their schedules for the upcoming week (including parents).


Sit down with your agendas for 15 minutes and have a team meeting. Each family member writes down everything that involves THEM - the WHO, the WHAT, the WHERE and the WHEN.

Discuss sports schedules, upcoming tests/projects, needed supplies, when to take the bus, pick up/drop off etc. Parents can share if they will be working late one night or have other after-school obligations that may impact the family.


This system is a fantastic cure for LMS (Last Minute Syndrome!) and is a MAJOR stress reducer for all because it encourages everyone to be proactive and plan ahead together.


Many families have a large visual calendar posted at home which is a fabulous visual reminder when everyone is gathered on the homefront. However, for many of us, that beautiful visual is a distant buried memory when faced with the distractors and stressors of everyday life.


I highly recommend setting up and using a shared Google Calendar that can be synced and shared between ALL family members.


Here’s how you do it.


You’ll want to set this up the week before school starts and have everyone contribute ‘practice entries’ throughout the week to begin setting the ‘real life’ routine that’s around the corner. You can have A LOT of fun with these practice entries - “Meeting with Lebron James, Thursday August 30, 2:00-3:00 pm. Notes: Bring business cards.”

Warning! Establishing this routine takes some time for everyone in the family to get used to! BUT like any new habit, once it is practiced and used, voila!  I love this model because it’s not all on me (the parent) to schedule everyone’s ‘stuff’ and be left to run interference when there are conflicts.


We ALL can contribute! For older children, it’s a fabulous way to have them plan and prioritize their schedule while keeping you in the know.

Kaizen Education Services Inc
Kaizen Education Services Inc

As you know, you’re about to be getting a FLOOD of emails and forms from your child’s school.  


Make a plan ahead of time to organize an email folder JUST for school information and be sure your child already has those handy dandy plastic dividers with pockets in their binder.


These are PERFECT for catching important forms and notes to bring home!


A package of these plastic dividers with built in slide pocket (AVERY #11903) will be LIFE CHANGING.


Kaizen Eduation Services Inc.

As a seasoned educator, I can honestly tell you that YOUR CHILD WILL NOT USE EVERYTHING ON THAT GENERIC “SCHOOL SUPPLY LIST.”  


Here’s what they’ll need FOR SURE...the rest is gravy (unless, of course, a specific teacher requests a specific item).


Oh, and be sure to check closets and desks for materials you already have! You don’t have to buy new each year. Recycling is a good thing. :)



  • Paper Planner (or alternative based on need) - the best one has one week on two pages and monthly calendar in the front or another good one is the weekly snapshot on a single page. If your child is vehemently opposed to a paper planner, Google Cal is the next best option.

  • 1 Heavy duty binder clip to make the planner easy to use

  • 1 to 2 Zipper Binders with built in file storage on the inside (they are expensive but are worth it!)

  • Soft 3 ring pencil case with holes to store in binder

  • Package of plastic dividers with built in slide pocket (AVERY #11903) THESE ARE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN A STANDARD DIVIDER, BUT MAGIC! ONLY ONE NEEDED PER SUBJECT.

  • Table top file box & with 5-8 hanging file folders (one per subject)

  • Timer for study blocks of no more than 20 mins. (old fashioned kitchen timer - avoid timers on phones/computers)

  • Unique pens, pencils, erasers, rulers etc. (the more unique the better! This helps in retrieval of materials, returning lost goods to their proper owner, and assists as a conflict resolution strategy when there are accusations of ‘stolen goods!’

TIP #6: set up student organizational systeM before day #1

Click HERE to learn more about a system that is tried, tested and true for grades 4 to 4ever!

TIP #7: Teach them how to use the combination lock (and practice...)

If your child doesn’t know how to work a lock, teach them before school starts.


Learning to use a combo lock on the first day of school while faced with the stress of making new friends, getting to class on time, meeting new teachers, understanding course outlines, learning to navigate a new school is a STRESSFUL experience.


Help them out by tackling this challenge in the comfort of your own home.

TIP #8: Pre-scan the school website

For students in junior and senior high school, visit the school’s website TOGETHER before day 1.


What fun things are happening the first month? Is there a 2018-19 calendar available?  Who is the principal? Who are the school counsellors? What are your school colors? You get the idea...


This doesn’t have to be a serious Mi5 investigation but rather a time to explore and prime the pump.

TIP #9: create visual reminders of routines & expectations

Visual reminders are POWERFUL and WORK.


I absolutely love this example of No-Nag, Never Late Mornings”  shared by Susan Kruger. Having your child visually ‘bump into’ a reminder is much more effective than nagging.

TIP #10: encourage your child to HELP OTHERS

Talk to your child about looking out for the kid who needs help.


Who is eating lunch alone? Who is struggling to open their lock? Who is late for class? Who ‘looks’ sad, worried, confused…? Who seems to be struggling?


Encouraging your child to reach out to others can help to alleviate their own internal worry, changing the focus from ME to US.

Remember, we're all in it together.