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After a season filled with sunshine, adventures, extended bedtimes, TV show binges, and lazy mornings, it can be tough to break our families out of their summer routines in time for the first day of school.

Never fear, though, because here at The Morning Bell, we’ve got you covered.

Check out our tips below to help you hit the ground running in time for the first day of school on Thursday, September 5, 2019.

If you have other suggestions, please let us know in the comments!

Child with lion facepaint standing next to a row of bookcases

Tips for a Smooth Start to the 2019–20 School Year


  • Start establishing your family’s morning routine before the first day of school.

Practice your family’s morning routine at least a few days before the first day of school. Set your morning alarms, wake up on time, get ready for work/school, and get to your car/subway station/bus stop on time as you and your family would throughout the school year. This will help everyone adjust!

  • New to a school? Practice your morning commute!

Make sure your child gets to school on time! Take a few test runs to the new school before the start of the school year so you don’t get tripped up on Day 1.

  • Set a standard bedtime routine and schedule at least two weeks before the first day of school.

Bedtime routines are very important for children. Schedule a regular bedtime, and start sticking to it now. The earlier you can get your family back into a school-year bedtime routine, the easier September will be for everyone in your household.

  • Make sure your school has your current contact information 

Can your child’s school reach you in an emergency? Be sure to complete a “Blue Card” form provided by your school, which lets staff members at the school’s main office know about any changes to your address, phone number, or other information.

Parent coordinators are important members of every school community, as they can get answers to many of your school-related questions and concerns. Call or visit your child’s school to get your parent coordinator’s contact information. You can also use our Find a School tool to identify your parent coordinator through your school’s website.

Child asleep in bed next to a row of stuffed animals.

Start implementing bedtime rules before school begins. (Photo Credit: Steven Yeh via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.)

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially when it comes to children. Kids who skip breakfast are more likely to be restless, tired, and inattentive in the classroom. Incorporate breakfast into your morning routine at home, or utilize our schools’ Breakfast Menus or Breakfast in the Classroom programs.

  • Make sure your child(ren)’s immunizations are up-to-date.

Learn more about required vaccines on the DOE’s official Immunization page.

We speak your language! Your school can provide you with free translation and interpretation services. Learn more about these services from your school’s parent coordinator or principal. For sign-language interpretation services, please call (212) 802-1500, ext. 7181.

  • Get your children to read.

One of the best things a child can do to help prepare themselves for the upcoming school year is to read a book! Reading helps prime our brains for learning and language retention, so children who read at least one book in the last week or two before the first day of school are better prepared to learn.

Stay in the loop with all DOE holidays, school events, testing dates, and enrollment deadlines with our new-look NYC School Calendar.

And don’t forget to subscribe to The Morning Bell!

Four high school students around a table with laptops open and smiling towards the viewer.

Use some of our tips, and you can be just as happy as these kids to go back to school, too!

  • Set house rules for the school year for electronic devices

Electronic devices, such as tablets, smartphones, and videogame consoles, can be fun and educational, but they can also distract students of all ages from their studies. Set house rules and expectations for the use of these devices before the school year begins in order to make it clear to children that school comes first. (Step aside, Fortnite and Smash Bros.)

  • Save time every morning by getting clothes/backpacks ready the night before a school day.

Makes sense, right? Who doesn’t want to save time in the morning?

Available in 10 languages, this year’s NYC Public School Guidebook (formerly known as “Achieve NYC”) provides families with wide range of information about and City public schools, including important calendar dates, enrollment processes, what students are learning in each grade level, and more. Get your copy beginning on September 5 at your child’s school or at Family Welcome Centers across the City. You may also download a digital version of the Guidebook from the DOE’s Infohub site.

  • Choose backpacks with wide and padded shoulder straps.

Reduce the risk of neck, back, and shoulder pain by purchasing backpacks with thick shoulder straps. To improve weight distribution, consider buying backpacks with waist straps. 

In addition to lunch, all City schools serve free breakfast to all students.

On behalf of the DOE, we wish all of our families a smooth and successful start to the 2019–20 school year!

Official blog for the NYC Department of Education, home of a million students across 1,800+ schools

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