12 Ways To Make the Beginning of Your School Year Run Smoothly

12 ways

The beginning of the school year can be a hectic, exhausting, and exhilarating time. I’ve found having a plan and checklist of sorts has been helpful to keep my head from spinning. I am less overwhelmed when things seem to run smoothly. So, today I’ve gathered 12 things for you to check off your list. By no means is my list exhaustive, so add your own tips in the comments below!

at home at work

Note: you can buy the handy to-do list shown above here

At Home

1. Have a morning routine.

Your routine may be the same as last school year, but it doesn’t hurt to do a test run! Write down what you need to accomplish every day before school, like getting yourself and your kids ready. Estimate the time it will take to get ready. Add your travel time, and then add a few cushion minutes!

2. Plan and pick out a week of outfits.

Making clothing decisions the night before takes the pressure off you in the morning. It also saves you valuable time! After trying this for a week, you may incorporate it into your regular evening routine.

3. Plan and pack a week of lunches.

Doing this for a week will help make it a habit. There are some fantastic Pinterest ideas for preparing lunches for a week! Buzzfeed also has a great list to get you started here.

plan lunches

4. Have a nighttime routine.

Maybe you pick out your outfits and pack your lunch at night. Do the tasks consistently, and don’t forget to get a good night’s sleep–especially during those first few weeks of school!

5. Be realistic.

There will be weeks, like during the beginning of school, where you devote more of yourself to your job. However, there will also be times when you devote more of yourself to your home life. Keep this fact in mind.

Check out Jessica’s insightful work-life balance tips from the AOE LIVE episode: “Finding Your Sweet Spot at Home and at Work

work-life balance

At School

6. Prep your room.

I like to have my posters up, new displays ready to go, materials organized, furniture placed, and my class shelves prepped before the first day. This takes extra time, but it’s so worth it to feel prepared and ready to welcome students!

class shelves and folders

7. Know your curriculum.

You don’t need to know the exact day and hour you plan to teach each part of your curriculum. But, it helps to have a general timeline. This way, you can pace yourself accordingly.

8. Know your schedule.

This probably changes year to year and takes some getting used to. But you should know when you can use the restroom, go to lunch, and expect different grade levels.

9. Know your plan for the first day.

“Just winging it” is generally not a great idea. Whether you share expectations, make art, or both, have a plan. Keep in mind time is weird during the first few days of school. Sometimes class periods go quickly while others may seem extra long. Having a few backup activities, like a favorite book to read, is a great idea.

10. Decide how you want to share your expectations.

Last year, I decided to change it up and do a video scavenger hunt. Students were split into teams. They used iPads to scour the art room for QR codes that linked to videos. These videos featured specific expectations or routines for areas around the room. See more about my process here!

a fun way to teach routines

11. Choose your first projects. Make specific plans for the first few weeks.

None of my plans are set in stone, and they need to be flexible for welcome back events. But, I do have a general plan for the first month laid out digitally. I am able to copy and paste as needed to adapt for each class’s progress and any events that might pop up.

digital plans

 12. Try to stay positive and enjoy yourself!

The beginning of the year is a stressful time for you, your colleagues, your family, and your students. It might be important to build in extra “down” time. Not only is this important for the first few weeks, but it can help you stay sane throughout the school year.

While life doesn’t always go according to plan, it helps to have a plan of action to help guide you. I know when I feel organized and prepared, things seem to run more effortlessly.

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What do you do to ensure your school year runs smoothly?

Which items stress you out the most? Which are the most fun to complete?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek

Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek, an elementary school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She is passionate about teaching and reaching students through an innovative and meaningful arts education.

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