For Those Attending School–Tip #11: Create Consistent After School Routines


 

Tip #11: Develop Consistent After School Routines

 

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn…” Carl Rogers

I know, I know…this blog is filled with things that you, the parent, have to do. Believe me, I know it feels overwhelming and even unfair, at times, to have such a huge responsibility as raising sons and daughters. So much to think about in raising children for the Lord. We have to be good examples of what we want our kids to become; we have to be in charge of their eating and healthy habits; we have to discipline them so that they grow up with self-control; we have to oversee their education and spiritual development; we have to teach them God’s Word; and on and on.

Today I would like to continue this “back to school series” for those who attend school with a post I wrote a couple of years ago about developing effective after school routines. As I said earlier in this series, I have homeschooled for nearly thirty years, so I don’t have a lot of “going to school” experience, but when I see someone doing something that seems to work, I love to pass that along!


A couple of years ago we had an editor working for us who had three children (elementary) in school. One day I stopped by after school to drop off a document and found what I would consider to be one of the most ideal after-school practices (as far as helping her children with school is concerned).

This gal was standing at the kitchen bar with backpacks open in front of her. All three children were seated at the table eating snacks that she had laid out for them when they got off the bus. Mom was opening each backpack, checking to see what each child brought home, looking through homework folders, etc. and dialoguing with the kids about upcoming assignments, what their day was like, etc.

Contrast this with kids coming home, dropping backpacks on the floor of the back porch, grabbing a Twinkie, and going in to the tv or game system.

Yes, kids did just work hard all day at school. Yes, they do need breaks. However, taking part in an after-school routine with Mom or Dad, such as the one described above, does a number of things:

1. The parent, not the child, is determining snacks. I am sure kids are starving when they get home from school. And we all know that when we are hungry, we often reach for convenience, not health. Mom can have healthier snacks ready than what the child might choose.

2. Mom is checking homework right away—not hoping that the child remembers later. No surprises at ten o’clock!

3. There is uninterrupted (by electronics, anyway) dialogue about the kids’ day.

4. In the long run, kids will actually have more free time in the evenings if things are at least checked when student first gets home. They might not have it when they first walk in the door, but there will be a plan for the evening’s activities and schedule—and play time/electronics time may be earned by completing assignments, etc.

5. Lets Mom and Dad know how much they will be needed that evening. No mom or dad likes to be told at ten p.m. that the child needs poster board for tomorrow!

6. Mom can find things lurking/hiding in the backpack—field trip permission slips, note from the teacher, etc.

Now obviously, this is just one scenario that would work. And, once again, the success of this depends on each family’s priorities. If a family prioritizes after school activities or sports, then this meeting might not take place until later in the evening. Each family has to make those choices.

Homeschoolers can benefit from these ideas, as well. My children do much better with their daily chore and school charts when I check them every afternoon before they get “off” for the day.

Homeschoolers and school-away kids alike benefit from accountability and structure. It is our job as parents to provide both of these.

For Those Attending School–Tip X: Morning Routines


Tip X: Develop Efficient Morning Routines for Your Kids*

“Our children are not going to be just ‘our children’—they are going to be other people’s husbands and wives and the parents of our grandchildren.”
Mary Steichen Calderone

I think of the quote above often when I am working with my eight to eighteen year olds on “life skills.” All of the character, skills, routines, relationship abilities, work ethic, and education that they develop now will follow them all throughout their lives—and will have a profound influence on the kinds of spouses, parents, workers, citizens, and Christians that they will be as adults. Every life skill that we teach our children—and better yet, model for them—has the potential to help them be successful in many areas of life—even the morning routine.

If you find yourself chasing your preteen around with a toothbrush and hair brush or following your teen around, helping him find his shoes and stuffing things in his backpack every morning, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way! Again, a huge part of successful parenting is being a problem solver. We can continue chasing every morning, or we can implement routines and schedules that help us “prevent” that morning chaos.

Here are some tips for developing morning routines with older children (beyond preschool):

1. If your family has been of the mindset that chasing, stuffing bags and backpacks, cajoling, etc. are part of Mom’s job description, you will want to change that way of thinking quickly! Allowing our children to be irresponsible because we feel guilty if we do not do everything for them is not going to help us parent our children to become independent.

2. Partner with your older child to decide what he needs to do each morning. Let him suggest a doable list with your input.

3. Make a chart or list on the computer—or have your older child do that, so he can monitor his own progress on accomplishing his morning goals.

4. If mornings are extremely hectic now—with older kids on the computer, rising late, etc. and part of the family waiting in the car beeping the horn, etc., you will want to be firmer about establishing the morning routine and what order things are done, etc. We have done this for so many years that our boys, for the most part, know that this is what you do in the morning. When these items are done, I can do something else I want to do, start my school, etc.

5. If your children go to school, I recommend just putting in the morning routine those chores that pertain to that child, such as making his bed, straightening his room, putting his pajamas away, cleaning up messes he made, etc. Save other family chores for after school or before bed. (More on chore charts, appropriate ages for various chores, etc. in upcoming posts!)

6. If your older kids are poor prioritizers, you will want to use this opportunity to help them learn the art of prioritizing. If they consistently make bad choices when it comes to getting things done, you might have to “bring in the boundaries” some and give them step-by-step instructions on what to do for now. Once they gain responsibility and diligence, you can broaden that and give them more leeway. For example, if they get on the computer, text friends, etc. instead of getting their routine done, you might have to institute a “no electronics” rule until they show themselves more faithful. Remember, this entire process is a teaching opportunity—and some of our older kids need more lessons than others!

*reprint from 2010

Those Attending School–Tip VIII: Good Morning Routines


For Those Attending School (and homeschoolers!)–Tip VIII: Establish Good Morning Routines*

“Our children are not going to be just ‘our children’—they are going to be other people’s husbands and wives and the parents of our grandchildren.”
Mary Steichen Calderone

I think of the quote above often when I am working with my eight to eighteen year olds on “life skills.” All of the character, skills, routines, relationship abilities, work ethic, and education that they develop now will follow them all throughout their lives—and will have a profound influence on the kinds of spouses, parents, workers, citizens, and Christians that they will be as adults. Every life skill that we teach our children—and better yet, model for them—has the potential to help them be successful in many areas of life—even the morning routine.

If you find yourself chasing your preteen around with a toothbrush and hair brush or following your teen around, helping him find his shoes and stuffing things in his backpack every morning, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way! Again, a huge part of successful parenting is being a problem solver. We can continue chasing every morning, or we can implement routines and schedules that help us “prevent” that morning chaos.

Here are some tips for developing morning routines with older children (beyond preschool):

1. If your family has been of the mindset that chasing, stuffing bags and backpacks, cajoling, etc. are part of Mom’s job description, you will want to change that way of thinking quickly! Allowing our children to be irresponsible because we feel guilty if we do not do everything for them is not going to help us parent our children to become independent.

2. Partner with your older child to decide what he needs to do each morning. Let him suggest a doable list with your input.

3. Make a chart or list on the computer—or have your older child do that, so he can monitor his own progress on accomplishing his morning goals.

4. If mornings are extremely hectic now—with older kids on the computer, rising late, etc. and part of the family waiting in the car beeping the horn, etc., you will want to be firmer about establishing the morning routine and what order things are done, etc. We have done this for so many years that our boys, for the most part, know that this is what you do in the morning. When these items are done, I can do something else I want to do, start my school, etc.

5. If your children go to school, I recommend just putting in the morning routine those chores that pertain to that child, such as making his bed, straightening his room, putting his pajamas away, cleaning up messes he made, etc. Save other family chores for after school or before bed. (More on chore charts, appropriate ages for various chores, etc. in upcoming posts!)

6. If your older kids are poor prioritizers, you will want to use this opportunity to help them learn the art of prioritizing. If they consistently make bad choices when it comes to getting things done, you might have to “bring in the boundaries” some and give them step-by-step instructions on what to do for now. Once they gain responsibility and diligence, you can broaden that and give them more leeway. For example, if they get on the computer, text friends, etc. instead of getting their routine done, you might have to institute a “no electronics” rule until they show themselves more faithful. Remember, this entire process is a teaching opportunity—and some of our older kids need more lessons than others!

*Re-print from 2010.

For Those Going to School–Tip VI: Starting Homework Out Right

Tip VI of XII: Starting Homework Out Right

Once school starts and the textbooks have been previewed, you can help your students get into good homework habits by doing their homework with them for a few weeks.

Here are some tips along those lines:

1. Taking the textbook preview further

There are a number of ways that you can take the previewing of textbooks that I discussed yesterday even further with your children for more comprehension of the material:

a. Do his first few assignments out of the book with him, pointing out the things again that you observed in your first preview. This will help him see that those things are not just good things to know, but also helpful for completely homework quicker and more accurately.

b. Help him prepare for his first test with his textbook and you by his side. Show him how he can use the glossary, sidebars, table of contents, etc. to quickly fill in his study guide or quickly determine what the most important aspects of the chapter are in order to prepare for a test.

c. As you are previewing a text (for the first time or an additional time), use a large sticky note to record what you find. Write the title of the text at the top, then make notes about what it contains as far as study and homework helps. Stick this in the front of his textbook and help him refer to it when he is doing homework or test preparation. You could even record a plus and minus system, such as

+++ means something is going to be really helpful—a +++ beside the Table of Contents, for instance

+ beside a word he writes in the front of his book tells him that this might be somewhat helpful—Example: +Some graphs

– No study questions at end of chapter—again, he can make a list in the front of his book (on a large sticky note), etc.

d. Help him “label” different sections of his book with sticky notes along the edges. For example, you could put a yellow one at the beginning of each chapter and a pink one on the page that has definitions for that chapter, etc.

2. Prepare your younger student for textbooks by using user-friendly non-fiction books

Maybe you are not in the textbook stage with your kids; however, you can begin preparing them for those all important study skills that I described yesterday with quality non-fiction books. If kids at ages five, six, eight, and ten, learn to navigate around Dorling Kindersley, Eyewitness, and Usborne books (among many others), they will be heads and shoulders above other children who have only been exposed to fictional stories (more on the benefits of fiction later!).

These outstanding non-fiction books have literally hundreds of topics that interest kids, but they are so colorful and alluring, you do not feel like you are “teaching” at all. Additionally, they have many aspects that your child’s future textbooks will also have: glossaries, Tables of Contents, sidebars, graphs, pictures, inserts, definitions, bold font, italics, etc. Reading these to and with your children when they are younger will provide a natural step into textbooks later on.

Note: We teach our students (in our home, our cottage classes, and in our language arts books) a simple memory device for remembering fiction and non-fiction:

Fiction=fake (both begin with f)

Non-fiction=not fake (both begin with nf)

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