September’s theme here at An Intense Life is Surviving School 101.

My kids went back to school yesterday, so we’ve only had to survive one day so far. I am pleased to report that it went well. Part of what made it go well is the foundation that I started laying 4 months ago. As  a recap, our preparation consisted of a lot of assessments, meetings and telephone calls with teachers and administrators at the schools, and work at home over the summer addressing  my children’s specific challenges.

This week, we are setting routines and habits that I hope will see us through the school year with ease. For kids that learn fast and don’t like transitions, including at least two of mine, it is easier to make one big set of changes to our routines than many incremental changes.

The elements of the school routine that started yesterday are:

  • Picking out clothes the night before.
  • Lunches made the night before.
  • Bath every night – no exceptions. It’s not about cleanliness, it is about routine.
  • Alarms set for early enough in the morning to allow for small emergencies.
  • Full-family, sit-down breakfast . My husband isn’t home for dinner most nights, so this is our daily family meal.
  • Backpack check before leaving the house.
  • After school, mass emptying of backpacks in the kitchen: the kids are responsible for emptying lunch bags and putting communications from teachers in a file box that I go through every evening.
  • Snack when backpacks are empty.
  • 15 minutes of handwriting practice every day. My three boys have handwriting delays, so we just build in practice as part of homework.
  • 15 minutes of reading to me for each of the triplets. This is especially for the most dyslexic child and is in anticipation of reading homework. I want the routine established now so that we don’t have to change things much once the homework starts coming.

We need these habits.

Surviving school for the year will require intellectual enrichment beyond what the school can provide, management of emotional and physical overexcitabilities, coping with the frustrations of 2e kids, and time to let off steam. Without these basic habits, we will be stressed just getting through the easiest days. The hardest days would be impossible.

Personally, I would rather have more flexibility in our schedule, but I would not survive the school year.


Kate can usually be found writing about writing at

5 thoughts on “Getting Off to A Good Start

  1. Very impressive! We have to eat snack right away and dinner by 5 or there is screaming to be had. Blood sugar is an amazing thing. We start school tomorrow. I’m more curious about which teacher she will get than she is I think! Perhaps because I know more what is at stake!

    1. I hope things started well for you.

      Blood sugar levels are extremely important. Getting bags unpacked before snack just barely works for us. Things might change when we get to winter clothes, but I am hoping that the unpacking routine will be faster then.

  2. wish I could figure out a way to get my 14 y.o. to do the unpacking thing first!
    we often discover his unpacked lunchbag the next morning.
    I salute you for getting into such a great routine with them. I understand that its even more necessary when you have multiples. I also think it might be easier to enforce in a way. One child can get away with alot.

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