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September Routines

Many teachers I know spend much of September working to solidify routines. Why? Helping students understand what needs to happen, when, and how, can save a great deal of time and energy that is better spent on building relationships with students, families, and colleagues. There’s promise at the beginning of every school year, but it takes intentionality and creativity to fully realize it. As school routines come into sharper focus, I wanted to share some ideas for other routines that can help students, families, and teachers care for themselves.

Students* (late elementary school and older)

-Make a list of things you need in your school bag so that you don’t have to remember everything.

-Go through your school bag at the end of each week. Throw out garbage, reorganize papers, and make sure your lunch box is clean.

-Experiment with what you do immediately at the end of the school day (some people do much better getting work done right away; others benefit from rest and a snack first).

-Find some time to be outside.

-Drink a glass of water with every meal.


-Simplify snacks by doing a little extra prep work on the weekend or on a lunch break to ensure that kids can get something hearty & healthy with minimal effort.

-Try to follow a consistent schedule around mealtimes and bedtimes.

-Try to keep ingredients on hand for a few very simple and quick meals for those hectic evenings.

-Think of specific questions that can get your kids talking about their days (What was better today, gym or recess? What was the best part of your lunch?).

-Drink water between meals.

-Set your ideal bedtime, then back that up 15 minutes to begin your nighttime routine.


-Set, observe, and communicate boundaries around your time (have protected time where you do not engage in schoolwork at all).

-Keep a water bottle at school that you fill up and drink at least twice each day.

-Choose three different students each week and send home a positive email about things you’ve seen them doing.

-Make photocopies for the next day before you leave.

-Do at least one thing each evening that helps you recharge (take a walk, read, meditate, stretch, etc.)

The routines we follow to care for ourselves can help reduce the volume of decisions we have to make each day, along with our stress levels. While rough patches will still, undoubtedly, pop up, creating habits that support your wellbeing will make them easier to bear.

Are you finding a particular challenge at a certain time of day? Have a great routine that’s really helped you? Let us know in the comments!

*Thanks to Kris Blais for her help in drafting this list!

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