Establishing or Reinventing Home Routines and Responsibilities for Learning Success
Some of us are sighing relief that our children are off to school and getting a start with friends, teachers, and classes in person that they sorely missed last year with remote learning. For many of those same parents/caregivers, they are also managing the uncertainty and anxiety of sending children off to school during a pandemic while those under the age of twelve are particularly vulnerable. Others are gearing up their homes for remote learning or homeschooling as we continue to face unwanted but present dangers in-person. These caregivers are dealing with the complications of conducting work, school and family life in the same environment and the consuming role parents must play in order for learning to take place at home. But whether your situation involves daywork or homework that must be accomplished, now is the time to set up your home environment so that it’s conducive to cooperation as a family and the work involved with learning.
Here’s a quick checklist. You might ask yourself, have we created…
_____ well-rehearsed routines with clearly defined responsibilities?
_____ healthy sleeping, eating and hygiene habits?
_____ an organized, well-equipped and calm working environment for each family member?
_____ a plan for sharing and managing big feelings?
_____ a plan for times to connect in a caring, loving way with each/all family members?
The following is intended as a support as you think about what you need to do for your family. It’s likely you have many routines in place already. One way to make this effort manageable is to take a look at the time of day that seems most chaotic and focus on one particular routine and how you might work together with family members to improve it.
Well-rehearsed Routines with Clearly Defined Responsibilities
Whereas getting dressed by 10:00 a.m. may have been your casual summer routine, the school year requires an earlier morning with more tasks completed in a timely manner. This can be an enormous adjustment for children who have fallen into the slower-paced habits of summer. Pair this with the fact that they do not hold the same desire to get to school on time that you do and it can become a struggle fast and often. Here are my resources for setting up your routines so that each family member – even preschool age children – learn to take responsibility for their roles. Jobs get accomplished on time and your family can begin the day positively connecting with one another and setting the mood for a great day of learning! Check out these…
Discussing your morning routine when you are not in the pressure of the morning time can make all the difference in preparing each family member for their roles and responsibilities. I’ve outlined a simple process for this discussion so that even young children can be prepared and ready. Imagine a cooperative and smooth morning in which all family members do what they need to do to get ready along with time for sharing love and connection. Consider the fact that your morning routine- whether it’s smooth and connecting or chaotic and stressful- may just be the most important way in which you contribute to your child’s mental state and readiness to learn. Check out this video short to help create A Smooth Morning Routine.
Healthy Sleeping, Eating and Hygiene Habits
Perhaps precisely because, as parents, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our kids get enough sleep, eat well and keep clean, those are the very issues that become power struggles. Kids know that they can wield control and so, they attempt it. There are numerous ways we can prompt a sense of responsibility and even, boost confidence in our kids as they learn to manage these critical life habits on their own. Here are some simple ideas…
Getting enough sleep at night is vital to our ability to function and we know it’s vital for our kids to learn. Creating a consistent bedtime routine to ensure that your children get enough sleep is a significant way you can contribute to their school success! Take a look together at these sleep requirements by age to find out how many hours a night your child or teen requires. Here are some ideas for ending the day on positive note:The Opportunity of Bedtime. And if you have a “wiggle worm” who seems to gain newfound energy from your sleepy-time routine, here are some additional ideas. Check out Monkey Mind at Bedtime, Reflecting on Children’s Thinking.
Healthy Family Dinner
If you make dinner with your family a priority and spend time cooking a balanced meal, it can be unbelievably frustrating when your kids don’t want to eat or sit at the table with you. Check out this video short and actually enjoy your family dinner! Watch Creating an Enjoyable Family Dinner.
Chores and Household Responsibilities
The school year ushers in a busier schedule fitting in homework and extracurriculars and other family priorities into after school time. And it’s precisely because all of our schedules get busier that it’s important children and teens know how they can regularly take responsibility for their own possessions and contribute to your household. A consistent routine will help your child take initiative without a need for nagging. Learn more about Involving Your Children in Household Responsibilities by Age and Stage.
With the need to wash hands regularly, children are generally more aware of the need to clean. So build on this raised awareness. Talk about bath or shower times and when they can happen consistently. What’s your role? What’s your child’s set of responsibilities? If the shower always happens at a particular time, how will your child or teen remember? Discuss what happens if they forget so that you don’t find yourself in a habit of nagging each evening.
An Organized, Well-equipped and Calm Working Environment
If you have a predictable schedule, it helps to decide on when and where your child will get his/her homework accomplished. Don’t forget how powerful and useful brain breaks can be to refresh and reset. Check out the following article for specific, simple ways to create a conducive environment. Check out Getting Set Up for Homework Success.
Organizing school supplies and having them at the ready to help homework time run smoothly can serve as a comfort when kids have to get their work accomplished. Here are some simple ideas for creating a well-equipped work space. Check out Tools for Supporting Learning At Home.
A Plan for Sharing and Managing Big Feelings
Because we’ve all been impacted by the changes the pandemic has brought about, we are all dealing regularly with a wide range of feelings. Add to that our normal set of starting-the-school-year feelings and we have a mash-up of emotions. Though children may hold it in during the school day, they may need to let it all out when they get home. Having a safe, regular opportunity for sharing feelings offers your child a consistent place in which they can, if they choose, share what’s on their hearts and minds. For those who have remote learners or are homeschooling, daily feelings check-ins can prevent getting struck by upset emotions because there’s a time and chance to share even the hard stuff. Learn more about Daily Feelings Check-Ins.
Whether you have a kindergartener adjusting to an exhausting new schedule or a self-conscious and private teenager, there will be mood swings at the start of the school year. In fact, any age child will have to utilize extra self-management skills as they transition from summer to school. With any major change, you can expect emotions will run high. So what’s your plan? If you’ve discussed it and each have a plan for calming down, for finding some space, and for talking about your feelings, you’ll be ready when upset reigns. Here are a couple additional helpful resources.
Big Feelings Plan
Engage your family in creating a plan for when you are really angry, frustrated or fearful. Check out the Family Emotional Safety Plan and be sure to print off the template that can guide support your plan creation.
Establishing a safe base that is comforting and for your child only is a great way to offer respite when he/she is upset. Read about this simple way to help your child learn to self-soothe. Check out Home Base – Creating a Safe Haven for Calming Down.
Now is a great time to set up your routines, review responsibilities and ensure you’ve created the conditions for your child or teen to be successful. She will understand her roles and responsibilities. He’ll know how to take care of his emotions. She will feel organized and ready to deal with the homework coming her way.
What systems do you establish to create a conductive learning environment? We are eager to learn from your ideas! Here’s to a healthy, happy, connected school year – in whatever form or style it takes – for you and your family!