Here's some tried and true methods to help your family do so.

During the school year when it's homework time in the James house, Amy James sits at the head of the dining room table with her homework, and her three sons sit on either side of the table with theirs.

After a sunny summer vacation, getting back into the school routine is sometimes hard for families to do, and four out of the five members of the James family have been making the transition this week.

James is a double major in education and psychology at Utica College, and while she's finishing her degree this fall, she also gets her kids ready for school.

"If the bus comes late, then everything gets discombobulated," she said.

To ease the morning madness, the family plans lunches, dinner and breakfast ahead of time, sets their clothes out the night before and goes to bed early. But the key to the James's success is the kitchen calendar.

The calendar is clearly posted in the kitchen and features appointments and things that can't be missed.

"If I don't write it down," she said. "I would be lost."

Use Charts

Christie Kozyra of Marcy takes the concept of writing things down to the next level. She uses charts.

Her daughter Madison, 4, will be attending kindergarten at Marcy Elementary School this fall.

The family's chart, which is decorated with glitter and stickers, features before- and after-school scheduling such as:

- Dressing time

- Brushing teeth time

- Reading time

- Early bed time

"We're trying to establish a routine," Christie said. "That's the whole purpose of it."

Starting a new routine is a big step for Madison. Instead of attending preschool over the past few years, she spent quality time with her grandmother while her parents were working.

"I'm just a little scared," said Madison as her mom sat next to her rubbing her back.

While with her grandmother, Madison baked, played games, puzzles and card games. Christie says Madison is going to miss her grandmother and she's going to miss talking to her parents on the phone during the day.

"She has everybody's phone number memorized," Christie said. "She just called me on my cell phone and said 'Mom can I have lemonade?'"

Creatures of Habit

For some families, a plan for getting into a school-day routine doesn't exist, because they maintain the same routine throughout the year, despite the season.

The Sherline family of Whitesboro is one of those families.

Kelli Sherline says her children, Alyssa, 6, and Jacob, 4, stay in the same routine all year.

"The change is not shocking," she said. "So they don't feel like this is a big change."

Utica father John Vitta says his son Royal, 8, is so used to the school-day routines that during the summer, Royal is compelled to stay the course.

"We pretty much keep the same routine all summer," Vitta said. "Adults keep the same routine throughout their whole life. Routine, for adults, doesn't change and I like to keep him with the same mentality."

Back in the Swing of Things

Things to do in your household to help establish school-day routines after summer vacation.

- Set the breakfast table the night before.

- Prepare clothes the night before for your children and yourself.

- Make a list: Fill out a schedule of what is needed at school on each day.

- Be prepared: Fill up vehicle with gas the night before, run a mental check of dinner and breakfast plans.

- Do it now! If anything comes home from school that requires your attention, such as forms or permission slips, do it immediately. If you postpone it, you might forget it.

- Give homework a home: Establish a place and time for doing homework and stick to it. Keep dictionaries and other necessary homework tools nearby.

- Have a morning routine run-through: The days before school starts, start getting your child up, dressed, and fed in the same time as you would on a school day.

- Get papers in order: Ask what paperwork your child will need to start school. Take care of any missing vaccinations. Photocopy everything, so you don't have to recopy emergency contact numbers and doctors' addresses.

Observer-Dispatch