Reducing Back-to-School Stress

Developing Systems

With a new school year beginning, what words tend to bring chaos, stress and drama? If you said, “mornings”, “kids” and “getting ready for school” – you nailed it. Fact is, the new school year is the perfect opportunity for a fresh start and integrating new behaviors into the family lifestyle that will reduce a lot of the morning chaos. Developing systems or specific ways for doing things is one of the best and easiest ways to achieve this outcome. Imagine your child not misplacing or forgetting books or homework all because you initiated a few habits and behaviors to keep your kids organized for school. Develop these habits now and you will see big dividends for both you and your child over the coming years; not to mention they will develop a very important life skill. The earlier you begin the easier it will be. This is a parent/child experience. The more your son or daughter is involved in the creative process, the more ownership they will have. Here are some quick tips to get you started.


Quick Tips:

  1. Designate a specific place where everything goes. We’ll call it a “school staging area.”
    1. Always put your bookbag, books and notepad in the same place.
    2. Always put your homework in the same place.
  2. Create a designated study/homework area.
    1. Pay special attention to lighting, noise and distractions.
    2. The more personalized the space is, the more ownership your child will have.
  3. Develop the habit of planning tomorrow the night before.
    1. Know what you are going to wear the night before. Set it out if possible.
    2. Know what you have to do tomorrow. What commitments do you have? What assignments are due?
    3. Review tomorrow in your mind just before you fall asleep and see yourself being successful in everything
      you do.
  4. Develop the habit of using a daily planner.
    1. Most schools have Agendas for each student. Learn to use this great tool or use a phone app for homework
      and assignments.
    2. Learning to use this tool effectively may payoff big when the grade card comes out.


Bonus Tips from area parents:

  1. We check our kid’s assignment book as soon as we walk in the door to plan for any additional time. This also lets our children know homework is important.
  2. We have our children do homework at a specific time each night. The kids get in the habit, but we as parents also get in the habit of making sure it is done.
  3. We use a shared calendar. That way everyone knows who has to be where and who needs picked up when.

A bit of persistence on our part will go a long way. Remember, one of the last areas of the brain to develop is that of organization and decision making. Look for progress rather than perfection. Now to begin, take a deep breath and let go of any stress you are currently holding on to.


Author Larry Tracey, is Executive Director of Youth4Youth, author, speaker and Program Director of the WOW Coalition; a prevention association that promotes safe and healthy choices and responds to problems caused by alcohol, marijuana and Rx abuse by implementing strategies to prevent and reduce youth substance use. For additional information visit or contact at (623) 208-3230 or email:

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