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Posted on September 13, 2022 at 6:00 am
Getting back into a routine for school is always a transition. If you have had a relaxed schedule during the summer months, frantic mornings do not have to characterize the start of the school year. The challenge is creating a routine that works for you and your family.
Setting up schedules that work for kids can be a challenge, but the rewards are worth it. You are helping them learn life skills they will use later in life. Also, your days (and everyone’s moods) will be better with less frustration and anxiety at the day’s start!
One idea to get the whole family back into a good routine is to try not to cram everything into the morning. Mornings are busy enough without overloading them with tasks and checklists. You can ease the burden by doing what you can the night before. For example, the night before school, kids could take a shower or bath, pack their bag or backpack, pick out the clothes they are going to wear, and prepare their lunch. Taking care of these tasks can really cut down the time everyone needs to get ready in the morning.
This can be great not just for kids but for adults as well. I always benefit from shifting more preparation to the night before. It helps me cut down on the many trips I make back into the house because I forgot something.
Another idea if you also want to save yourself trips back into the house each morning is implementing a pause at the door to “double check” to make sure everything is in your bags and hands that you need for the day. This could be a mental run through of the list, a list posted at the door, or a phrase that reminds you and your family of everything needed for the day.
If you are able, planning a little extra time for just yourself in the mornings can be beneficial. One way is to wake up earlier than your kids (which may mean getting to sleep earlier than your usual bedtime). This self-time in the morning gives you a chance to relax, drink coffee or tea, exercise, eat breakfast, or whatever helps you prepare for what the day will bring.
Being more relaxed in the mornings can also influence your child’s mood and outlook in the morning.
Also, don’t try to do it all yourself—make the kids part of the routine in the morning. When the routine is visible—like a checklist or chart as suggested earlier—kids can see what they are responsible for doing in the morning. For younger kids, consider using a chart with pictures. Adding regular to-dos to the list, such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, feeding the dog, and so on, can help kids understand accountability, responsibility, and teamwork.
To avoid being the nagging adult, you can simply refer them to the morning chart or checklist that details their routine. Over the course of the school year, they will hopefully develop a stronger sense of responsibility for themselves and proactively take on their tasks.
Time management and self-guidance through tasks are skills kids will use throughout their lives, and it is never too early (or too late) to start!
For many students, there is little more that’s dreaded than homework at the end of the school day (or weekend). If you’ve struggled with kids completing homework, you are not alone.
One of the ways you can help them be successful is establishing a homework routine. The benefit of this is that there are no questions about when it needs to be done, and the routine creates clear expectations.
To get full buy in, I recommend getting your kids’ input on when they want to do their homework. If they answer “Never!” “Not now!” or “Whenever,” you can frame the question in a way that helps them to see that homework isn’t an optional task and then give them two or three options.
Another approach would be to go through the things they need to do and those they enjoy doing after school to find what is really important to them as they plan their day. This can give kids the control they crave and help set the boundaries you need. Basically, when kids are included in the process of planning their routine, you get more participation from them and avoid scheduling their homework right when they need that snack they have been looking forward to all day!
Setting up a homework routine is also about making sure that kids have free time to play, imagine, and explore their interests. Having time to play or even just decompress is just as important as learning something new.
Another important part of a successful homework routine is picking a designated space. Every kid is different, so what best suits their needs when doing homework may be different from others. It is good to be mindful about whether they need quiet or ambient noise, or if they need alone time or to be near siblings or adults while they do their homework.
Some things are fairly universal, such as having supplies, a well-lighted space, and enabling guardians and caregivers to have some supervision. Make their homework space a comfortable place to spend some time to help them get into the routine!
Helping older (and even younger) kids with homework can sometimes be a challenge. I know I would have trouble helping with high school math. Numbers have never been my strong point.
Extra help from our Digital Library is here to save the day!
HelpNow offers free, live online tutoring with trained educators every day from 2pm to 10pm. HelpNow also has a writing lab, study tools for most subjects at all grade levels, and practice tests for all ages. This can help take the pressure off of parents and caregivers from having to recall and know everything about all subjects!
Along with HelpNow, our Digital Library is packed with online resources to help students write papers, research projects, and even create science experiments. To learn more about some of these resources that are all available online 24/7, check out these helpful articles written by my colleagues:
Alison Johnson is an Education and Enrichment Librarian with Spokane County Library District, who creates programming and events for ages 8–18. This means she gets to play with everything, including paint messes and mini robots. When she has free time, she enjoys watching anything science fiction, hiking trails, and reading with a cup of tea.