When summertime ends, most of us get prepared by shopping back-to-school sales to get our child the clothes and school supplies they need for yet another year! But something that often gets overlooked is the scramble that can happen at the end of the school day. Taking some time now to prepare for what happens after the bell rings will set you and your family up for success so that you can enjoy your afternoons together!!
In structuring your child’s after-school time, the goal is not just to keep them “busy”, but to create a successful way for them to finish out their day and spend some quality time with their family. From an early age, it’s a great idea to introduce calendar and time-telling skills. Beyond the clock, time-telling also includes learning how to plan ahead and prioritize tasks that either take longer or are more important. For example, if the grandparents are in town on Friday, then homework should be finished by Thursday evening so they don’t feel rushed over the weekend, and can instead spend a nice, relaxing weekend with the family.
The “H Word”: Homework
The key to success with homework is organization. To optimize your chance of success, you should note where homework is recorded and where it goes when it’s finished. This way you don’t miss anything and all the hard work your child did gets back to the teacher.
TOP TIP: Try practicing the “I Do, We Do, You Do” Method to teach your child to check their homework and other tasks. This is where you go through your child’s bag with them on a daily basis, slowly wean to a weekly then monthly basis, until they no longer require your reminder to check what’s left to do!
Getting Stuff Done: Chores
When your child is young, allowing them to help you around the house prepares them to do the same activities independently when they are old enough. Implementing this in their after-school routine helps reduce your workload and allows for more quality time together.
TOP TIP: Why not make dinner together? Teach your child to boil water (if they’re old enough) or to measure things like flour or water. These seemingly simple tasks will build their basic skills of cooking or baking and helps them bond with the family!
The Fun Part: Leisure Time
It is very important to make time for leisure. This allows your child a moment to relax and end the day with a good, happy attitude. It’s always a great idea for you or another adult to play and interact with your child when possible so your child can learn and bond with loved ones. That said, allowing your child to experience independent leisure time allows them to learn how to keep themselves entertained and discover things on their own.
TOP TIP: Try limiting screen time by providing toys or materials that both entertain and stimulate the mind. Such activities may include: playing outside, reading, puzzles, art, or building blocks.
Structuring your child’s after-school time is important to their growth and independence. It may take some extra time on the front end to plan out the routines and activities that work best for your family, but once you get into the flow of a well-structured afternoon, you’ll feel more at ease and enjoy your time together!