Everyone has made it through the school day (Mom and Dad included!) and you’re left with roughly 4 hours to figure out some form of routine to get everyone from the bus to bed and ready for the next day! As with a morning routine and the routines during school, an after-school routine can be just what the doctor ordered to get everyone through the after-school “to-do” list (which, depending on the age of your children, can be quite lengthy!) …
Home Sweet Home
Once they burst through the door, (or drag themselves, depending on the day!), the kids will likely throw their school bags, shoes, jackets, hats, etc. in a huge heap by the door and immediately want to eat something. For some families this happens after school, for others it happens after a bit longer day that may have included child care or an after school program.
Let’s look at that huge heap and how we might better handle that …
* If you have the space, organize your main entry way into something functional that will serve to conquer clutter and act as a “homebase” for things like jackets, shoes, backpacks, library books, and all those “grab-n-go” things that you don’t want to be running around the house searching for at the last minute when you’re running behind.
* Get them to show you their schoolwork and their agenda – As a former middle-school teacher with over 300 students, I desperately relied on my agenda-communication with my students’ parents!
The Delightful Order has a fantastic entry-way design for kid’s gear, schedules and messages. Keep school newsletters, extra curricular activities, appointments, tests and homework organized and readily available and accessible with this awesome system! I may even make one for myself and Hubby just to keep our schedules and stuff organized too!
For smaller spaces, something more like this can help with the paper clutter and keep schedules organized. This Kitchen Command Centre by Lovely Crafy Home can be tailored to fit your family’s lifestyle.
They’re going to be hungry. Perhaps even ravenous. Right after school is the BEST time to clean out that lunch bag or box and work on tomorrow’s (ya, that’s right!) lunch! You have to make a snack anyway – why not grab the beast that is “lunch prep” by the horns early and get the bulk of it behind you?! The best part? The scraps or extras from assembling the main parts (like cheese, crackers, fruit, veggies …) of the next day’s lunch are a perfect after-school snack – guaranteed to be mostly healthy and something you know your child likes! The added benefit is that your child gets to help you put their lunch together which also raises the likelihood that they’ll both eat and enjoy it tomorrow!
Many “after-school routine” posts I visited said to “make a snack and take it to the homework table”. Personally, I feel that’s a bit “too much, too soon”. I would much prefer to enjoy a snack with my kids, chat about their day and mine, and let them have a break after being at school all day, travelling home and then get them into the homework thing. It also helps them avoid mindless munching. If your routine is beginning right before dinner, you might choose to put out a few healthy options, fruit or veggies to help hold them off until dinner is out of the oven. Having children help with dinner prep and setting the table is a perfect opportunity to have that after school check in about their day.
I have bounced from blog to blog trying to find a solid link for the “perfect homework routine”, but there’s nothing that jumped out at me as absolutely ideal. Perhaps that’s because there isn’t a “perfect” solution for homework and that a family has to do what’s best for them?
Regardless, here are a few ideas that I found in my blog wanderings that might help you fine tune your child(ren)’s homework routine:
* Have a designated area away from distraction where homework is to be completed.
* You may or may not decide on the “work until it’s finished” or “work for X amount of time” as your family’s policy on homework – either seems to be supported – my thought is that it doesn’t really matter as long as the rule is consistent.
* Be present and engaged – help them manage their homework so it seems less daunting, provide support as needed, but don’t hover. Give them the chance to make the mistakes and learn from them.
* If your child dilly-dallies their way through their homework and it’s taking them far more time than it should, suggest a fun activity you can do together once they’ve completed to encourage them to pick up the pace.
* Avoid over-scheduling your kids. If they have extra-curriculars 4 or 5 nights a week, there won’t be adequate time for homework and it will be done on the run or not done at all. Establishing solid homework routines in early years will help shape the kind and quality of student they become.
The Rest of the Evening
Once homework is behind them, and depending on your family’s preferences, the rest of the evening can be spent in a variety of ways: eating a family meal, watching a family show, playing a family game (noticing a theme here?) Try to spend some down time with the kids – they’ve been gone ALL day and despite their “coolness factor” and how much they think they don’t need that extra “Mom & Dad” time, they do. Plain and simple. And they benefit greatly from family-building activities – these are the moments where the lasting memories are made – those moments they reflect back on when people ask them about their childhood.
For Further Reading:
Martha’s got 16 relatively easy Back To School Organization Ideas – everything from entryway design ideas to homework spaces. Definitely a great post with some great suggestions!
Check out Jenn’s newly redesigned with “back-to-school in mind” entryway. This entryway is an absolute dream and the post gives a fantastic look a few key components that she added to make it both a stylish and functional part of their home.
This website is an absolute gem! They have information, encouragement and suggestions on several parenting and child development topics. I’ve linked specifically to their post about The Importance of Spending Time with Young Children, but this is a website worth exploring!