The Family Unit
Back to School Routines
With two months of the school year under their belt some parents may be feeling weary, frustrated and at their wits end. The Phoenix Centre has put together a list of strategies and tips for parents to help their children, and themselves, succeed this school year.
A crucial element for students to succeed is to ensure they have a solid routine. Here are some general strategies and tips:
1. Create a routine as quickly as possible.
Children of any age respond best to predictability. There are three critical areas parents need to focus on to help their children develop healthy and helpful routines.
- Waking up: This includes such things making time for waking up, brushing teeth, getting dressed and most importantly, having a nutritious breakfast.
- Getting home from school: Children need a routine for putting away school things, having some time to tell you what happened in school today, homework time (if there is any) and rules about going to friends homes or having them over on school nights.
- Bedtime: This includes the time for going to bed, the routine that a child goes through before and what you do as a part of the bedtime process (snack, storytelling, prayers, bath time, massaging their back, etc.)
2. Become familiar with your child’s school.
This includes who their teacher is, the principal, where their classroom is and most importantly, where they sit. Even if you did some of these things before your child went to school it might be good to revisit the school and ask your child to be in charge of taking you on a tour of the school. For a child in high school ask about their classes and who their teachers are. Take an interest in what they are doing and experiencing within the school.
3. Ask your child about their day, every day.
The most common response from children when you ask “How was school?” is “It was Okay”. Unfortunately, most parents don’t go any further and because there is such a limited answer they tend to stop asking.
It is much more helpful to be specific with your question, so you are more likely to get a more focused answer. Here are some sample questions you might ask after they get home, at the supper table, or at bedtime.
- “What is one thing that made you happy at school?”
- “What is one thing that you learned today?”
- “Who is one friend you played with today?”
- “What is one thing you played today?”
- “Did you do something new today?”
- “Is there anything that you did not like about the day?”
- “Is there anything/anybody that bothers you at school?
4. Homework Woes.
Homework can be a painful ordeal for children as well as for parents.
To minimize the pain you can do the following:
- Set a regular time for your child to do homework.
- Check your child’s agenda to see what homework is assigned.
- Have your child do homework in a more open area of the home where there are less distractions. (i.e. toys, TV, video games) The kitchen is often best.
- Do not do homework for your child…as attractive as this might be to just get it over with. It is helpful to work with your child, but if you are getting upset, ask an older sibling or a relative for help.
- If there is a lot of homework, give breaks. Children are no different than adults. It’s hard to keep focused for a long time on something that is either difficult or stressful.
5. Create a space to show off report cards, drawings, etc. that your child brings home.
- This is often the kitchen fridge, and it may become cluttered, but posting their successes helps their sense of pride and accomplishment.
- When people come over, bring their attention to something your child has done. (“Look at this drawing they did, check out the last report card,” etc.) Taking pride in your child’s work is one of the best motivators for them.