Per my back to school refresher series, today I wanted to share an archive post on the importance of schedule and routine during the school year. These tips come from educator and former contributor Sheri, who notes that getting kids into a consistent rhythm and routine from the start takes a bit of work but is enormously helpful through the rest of the school year, both in allaying jitters and increasing productivity.
Keeping a school year schedule is essential for everyone’s sanity. During the first month of school, keep extracurricular activities to a minimum while your child gets adjusted to a new grade, new teacher, new expectations, and new friends. Parents often over schedule their children at the beginning of the school year in an effort to socialize them more or due to pressures of classes enrolling and possibly filling up. Give it four weeks of getting used to the school routine and pre- and post-school schedule before you add activities in. Your child will adjust to school faster and will be less stressed. Instead, try to arrange play dates at the park with new faces in your child’s class or reconnect with those who are no longer in class with your child.
Routines should be created for those times of the day that can make or break a good day. These times are before school, after school, homework, and bedtime. It is so important to have an established routine for each of these key areas. Creating a routine will provide consistency and can lessen those difficult and challenging times of the day when everyone is tired. Here are 4 routines to get into:
1. Before school. Before school routines should include getting dressed and ready, eating breakfast, and checking that backpacks have all that they need for the day. Teaching younger children the importance of these simple routines will make mornings easier and help you get to school on time. Using a checklist system can really improve your child’s ownership of getting these things done independently. Posting the checklist near the door you exit makes it simple to be sure your child is prepared for their day. Start of the day consistency can set up your child for successful school days, since they will feel less frazzled or rushed walking into school. Be sure to check out these 5 tips for making mornings easier!
2. After school. After school routines may vary but should include time to discuss what your child did during the school day. With my son we play a game called high and low. This game involves my son giving me one highlight of his day and one low. It is quick and easy and fills me in on what my son is enjoying or finding frustrating at school. You will never get every detail of their day so if you can find our what sticks out for them it helps open the discussion. Establish a family calendar that shows the afternoon upcoming events weekly and previews the week ahead with your child each Sunday evening.
3. Homework. Homework routines are essential for all students from grades K through high school. It provides the expectation that homework is important (whether you believe it fully or not, homework is going to be a part of daily life for years to come). I often suggest that parents give their children a 30-60 minute break after school before homework begins. This allows the child to unwind and burn off some energy, making their mind work better for the homework to come. Homework is a loaded topic of great debate among teachers and parents and deserves a much deeper discussion.
4. Bedtime. Sticking to a routine at the day’s end also helps reduce the likelihood of battles since your child knows what to expect. Have your child help you clean up the toys, pack the backpack, and lay out clothes for the next morning then get dressed and cleaned up for bedtime. Experts recommend that kids need 10-12 hours (preschool age) or 9-10 hours (school age) so make sure that children are in bed at a reasonable time. Enjoy the last moments of the day with your child with a story or two.