I think it’s pretty safe to say that back to school time every year evokes a variety of emotions in both kids and parents.


Those emotions can span a wide space from excitement and happiness to utter dread filled with anxiety.

For kids who seem to have always navigated their school world with ease, going back every fall is something they look forward to doing.  They feel excited to get back into their schedules and routines, they love meeting new teachers and friends and they have a truck load of confidence based on all of their previous school experiences.

If you’re the parent of that kid, congratulations!

But maybe you’re also the parent of a child or teen that can barely stand the thought of another school year beginning.  They begin to dread every day leading up to the opening day of school.

Their past school experiences were anything but positive and you’ve struggled to help them find their sweet spot when it comes to having more academic success.

Perhaps they’ve had a variety of academic struggles from getting organized to ever increasing amounts of distractibility.   They always seem to be losing their work, turning things in late or spending way too much time on unimportant things, while totally neglecting those things that have higher importance.

If any of that sounds familiar, I have some great news!

There are some specific things that you can do as a parent to coach your kids and teens to great amounts of academic success, while at the same time, lowering stress and anxiety.

Over the last 30 years as a teacher and school administrator, I’ve worked with hundreds of kids and parents.  I remember the first day of school melt downs of kids at almost every age.

I’ve also seen the amazing power of simply committing to some new daily habits and routines that will not only help your kids be more successful in school, but also in life.

Once you’ve taken a look at these, I strongly suggest sitting down with your child before the first day of school ever comes and have a heart to heart about what changes need to take place.

Getting their buy in up front is going to create a “teamwork” approach to tackling the things that in the past have been nothing but sources of stress and power struggles.

Here are 5 habits and routines that will make a huge difference!

  • Help your child to list the things that need to be completed by order of importance.  Difficult subjects will require more time and energy so allocate time accordingly.
  • Allow your child to spend equal time on the subjects they enjoy most.  Talk to the teacher and get a sense as to what they consider most important in the classroom. Strive for a balance in time spent in their academic strength zones with those they find more of a challenge.
  • Talk to your child about goals and interests, in order to understand what is important to them.  Listen more than you talk.
  • Great coaching from you in this area will enable your child or teen to learn to eventually prioritize on their own, an incredibly important life skill


  • Help your child learn to organize by making a checklist, in order of importance, of items that must be completed and when they are due.  Keep the checklist visible throughout the week.
  • Use tools such as binders, and folders to keep subjects separate and organized.
  • Work with your child so that they can come up with a plan that best suits their strengths and challenges.  Personality styles and learning styles vary greatly and a parent’s styles are not always the same as the child’s.
  • Remember, organization saves time, reduces stress, and eliminates confusion for everyone.
  • Have an evening and a morning routine to ensure that everything is ready to go each day.  This goes a long way to eliminating those stressful, chaotic mornings looking for books and homework.


  • Eliminate distractions and interruptions during homework, reading or study time.  However, keep in mind that all personality types are not the same.  Some people thrive and even prefer more noise in their environment while they are concentrating, while to others, any noise at all is a huge distraction.  Get to know your child’s concentration strength zones and accommodate what works best for them.
  • Remove access to email and social media while they working on the computer, as these can be time wasters and huge distractions
  • Provide a suitable place with space to work that is as clutter free as possible.


  • Help your child come up with a realistic schedule for work completion
  • Monitor the schedule that you create together to see if any changes are needed
  • Allow for some flexibility as long as the work is completed


  • Make a habit of listening carefully to what your child says about themselves; their view of their abilities and failures
  • Coach them to focus their thinking on their strengths, not their weaknesses
  • Plan frequent conversations with your child as a “check in” on how they perceive their success and challenges
  • Everyone has blind spots, challenges and weaknesses.  Coach your child to focus on their strengths, while being aware of where they need to grow and create a plan for helping them improve in those areas.

Maybe after reading this list, you are thinking to yourself that being consistent with making the most of these daily habits and routines is even a struggle for YOU!

Never fear!

Organizing, prioritizing and eliminating distractions are challenges that we all face, no matter the age or stage in life.

The great news is that even if you struggle in these areas too, becoming your child’s “success coach” will actually have a tremendously positive outcome for you at the same time!

That’s what I call a Win-Win!


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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