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  • Kathy Wu, PhD

3-Week Plan for a Stress Free School Year (Expanded from FOX29 Interview on 8/2/21)



Whether your child has never attended school or is a 12th grader, we recommend developing these 3 foundational skills to increase academic, physical and emotional success for the new school year: sleeping, eating, and organizing. To simplify these goals, it would help for you and your child to work on one set of skills for each of the 3 weeks leading up to the start of school. Using a developmental, lifestyle-based approach, each set of skills from the first week will carry over to the next and so on. Think of these three weeks as a dress rehearsal for the school weeks ahead. To make it as realistic as possible, it is advisable to get your child’s daily schedule from their school ahead of time and come up with a plan of action to adapt that adapts to their new school schedule.


Here are some guidelines for what working on each set of skills would entail each week:


Week 1: Sleeping - Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules

  • Helpful guidelines: School aged children need 9-12 hrs, teens need 8-10 hrs.

  • Evening: Turn off electronics 1 hr before bedtime, take a bath, read a story, and then go to bed.

  • Morning: Get up and get going.

Week 2: Eating/Nutrition

  • Child needs to be properly nourished to learn.

  • Consistently timed and healthy meals often go out the window during the summer, so it’s important to bring them back for the school year.

  • Pack lunches / Snacks and eat them at the times your child would at school (Give your child some say in choice of healthy foods).


Week 3: Organizing child’s social life and home environment

  • To make sure that your child doesn’t have any surprises because that could increase stress and anxiety.

  • Use this final week to prep them for the actual school week.

  • Be sure they know who will take and pick them up from school, and who their teacher(s) and classmates will be (maybe even host a play date with a new classmate this week).

  • Let them know how their after school hours will look like, including extracurricular activities and homework time.

  • Having a visual, clearly posted reminder of their schedule would be advisable.

  • Additionally, clean and organize the home so that you and your child know where all their supplies, school uniforms, etc. are located. If possible, be sure your child has a dedicated space to do their homework and keep their school bags and books, etc.

  • Most importantly, depending on how things will look like with the spread of Covid-19 variants and your child’s vaccination status, during this week also rehearse wearing masks, hand sanitizing, and social distancing for school.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Three weeks seem daunting, but think of it as only having 3 consecutive Mondays, 3 Tuesdays, etc. to solidify these skills.

  • Start on Sunday night, monitor progress throughout each day, and change up plans according to you and child’s needs / efforts / performance.

  • Don’t need to be perfect, aim for progress each week. When progress is made, praise the heck out of your child. You may even collaboratively decide on a prize, such as more play time or a special dessert.

  • If you get at least one set of skills down, you and your will be in good shape.

All the best on a wonderful new school year!



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