The Best Way to Keep Your Children on a Schedule After School
At the beginning of the last school year, I vowed to be better prepared and more organized. I needed desperate help getting my after school act together.
All it took was some color coding and a clock to keep us on track & drill it into the kids’ heads how we’ll prioritize our after school time.
We did it in this particular order, but you can customize the sequence to fit your own family’s priorities:
Depending on the age and maturity of the child, helping them get started with homework might be necessary.
For me, I get them started and then turn my attention to getting dinner started.
There is plenty of “homework” time padded into our particular schedule, which means that they can move onto the next activity on the list once they finish their homework.
Sometimes we leave the house and head to a nearby college library to do homework. For some reason, homework is more fun on a college campus!
Changing the location of homework every now and then helps keep the kids engaged. This is also part of the reason why I’ve got so much time dedicated towards homework.
PICK UP ROOMS
If your kids need something written into the schedule for cleaning rooms, about 15-20 minutes is a good time frame for the task.
I don’t expect their bedrooms to be spotless, but seriously they do need to stay on top of picking stuff up and putting it away.
Incorporating free time into the schedule serves two purposes:
- Free time is an incentive to get their homework and other tasks done. So they’re “earning” the free time
- It puts a natural time limit on screen-time
How they choose to spend their free time lets us know as parents what is important to them at that particular moment.
For me, the best free time is whenever they choose to help me cook dinner! This doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, I think it’s cool that they picked hanging out with mom over screen time!
Dinner is the one part of the day when everyone can come together facing each other and spend some time chatting as a family. Personally, it’s my favorite part of the schedule, and the kids know it.
Having dinner and chores listed together serves as a reminder that the kids have particular “kitchen chores” they’re responsible for completing after eating.
It’s important for kids to have some type of contribution to the household without an expectation of payment. In our house, we tell the kids that their kitchen chores are how they earn their keep around here…it’s part of being a family and contributing.
Plus, I read somewhere that kids who have household responsibilities develop into more productive adults.
A bath is the kids’ cue that the night is winding down.
Establishing a nighttime routine helps cause a shift their mindset that they are headed to bed soon. A bath is calming and relaxing…perfect for setting the stage for bed.
I wanted to label this time block as “hygiene” because brushing teeth and bathing needs to be part of the nighttime routine. But that word just doesn’t sound very relaxing, and I don’t want the kids to think that night is the only time you need to brush your teeth.
Also this is the time when the kids can lay out their outfits for the next morning….or they can locate and identify the shoes they’ll wear the next day.
Shoe battles in the morning are awful and avoidable.
Most kids have some type of reading requirement for school. With my kids, it’s getting AR points.
So incorporating some reading time with the bedtime routine allows them to naturally meet that requirement while meeting another goal on the schedule.
Depending on the age of the child, you can read TO them, WITH them, or you can just tuck them into bed with a book to read on their own. But the actual act of tucking them in is a comforting signal for them that the time has come to refresh their brains.
So there ya go…this DIY tool can help keep everyone in the family on track and help the kids form productive habits to set them up for school success.