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Whether you send your kids to school or you homeschool, many parents feel stuck with the role of “teacher.” Creating a schedule that will boost your child’s motivation is the solution.
Your kids are used to structure at school. They like knowing what is expected of them. Implementing a schedule at home will make life easier for parents, too.
Structure is Important for Kids Because:
You don’t want them to develop habits that are going to be hard to break as they get older.
They need to know and understand what is expected. Setting achievable expectations and responsibilities is a must. Your kids will understand that, when they finish their schoolwork, they will have more than enough time for fun and socializing.
You don’t want to nag or micromanage. That just creates heartache and unnecessary stress… for them and for you.
Chaos reigns without structure and routine.
Kids do better within a set structure. It helps them feel in control and less anxious. They will know what they’re supposed to be doing and when.
4 Easy Steps:
Organize a family meeting where everyone can collaborate and contribute. Let your kids create the schedule with you. They need to agree; otherwise, it will seem like some random rule that they will not want to follow.
Make a list of MUST DO’s. This includes schoolwork and chores. This list is different for every family and might change from day to day (especially on weekends when there is more free time available).
Make a list of preferred activities. These are things your kids both enjoy and can do independently, like reading a book or making an art project. Exception: screen time. Why? Screen time saps brainpower. It’s imperative to allow brain rest during break time (for adults too). Stick to activities that will get their bodies moving or allow rest (even a 15-minute power nap, if needed). Allow screen time only outside the schoolwork block.
Make a list of physical activities they can use for movement breaks. For example: take walks, swim, yoga, or just play outside.
You can now build an individualized schedule with each of your children.
Breaks are essential for kids. There are lots of studies that show prolonged work time is unproductive (for adults, too). Breaks reduce mental fatigue, boost brain function, and help kids stay focused (adults too!).
The Oreo Cookie formula: BREAK - WORK – BREAK
Sandwich the MUST DO’s (cream filling) between what they love doing and body breaks (chocolate cookies). This allows motivation to occur naturally.
And the big bonus? They will be happy to independently follow their schedules because it’s easy and fun for them, and the expectations are clear. Success = motivation.
How often and how long should these work/break activities be?
Make the work and break times equal, so the child wants to stick to the schedule. It’s far less painful that way.
For children younger than seven, there is naturally going to be more parental involvement and monitoring. Place their workspace close to you. In this way, you can assist with transitions.
For children ages 8 to11, optimize the schedule at 15-minute intervals: work 15, break 15, and so on.
For ages 12 to 14, optimize at 20 to 30-minute intervals (depending on the needs of the child).
For ages 15 to 18, optimize at 30 to 45-minute intervals. For teens, if they can self-manage, they can opt to do 30 minutes of work, take a shorter break, and have more free time to enjoy later.
For after school homework sessions:
You can do the same thing, but will probably only need one or two intervals, depending on the workload.
This is a schedule made and implemented by your kids. Listen to them. They will tell you what will work.
Don’t impose what you think they “should” do. It will come off as micromanaging, nagging, or other unpleasantness. Not good for them. Not good for you.
Bonus tip: Show your kids how to use a timer, alarm clock, or phone alarm so they can transition between work and break times. Set them up for success.
Don’t take away their ownership and responsibility.
Give them the freedom to create a schedule, try it out for a week, then reassess. If things are going well, leave them alone. They’re golden.
If it’s not working, well, you know what to do. Be sure to find out the why. It may be as simple as needing shorter intervals. Be willing to flex to put a plan in place that makes everyone successful.
Another part of this structure is including snacks, meals, and family time. A family schedule has everyone on the same page.
Post this schedule in the kitchen, so they are always aware of what everyone is doing. The refrigerator is the tried-and-true place of honor.
Create a Schedule for Yourself.
This is something almost every parent thinks it is not necessary, but it is essential.
Your kids need to know you have obligations to fulfill, just like they do.
It shows them you are working, just like they are.
This is vital for your sanity if you’re working from home.
Make sure to post your schedule where your kids can see it. They need to know when you’re busy and when you’re free.
Create all schedules on paper, or on a dry-erase calendar, as they will be changing and evolving in the days ahead. Color-code it so your kids can see their parts easily. Make it fun with stickers gold stars.
Do your best to stick to the school/work day schedule. Your kids will get used to the routine, and this will translate to less work for you.
Never underestimate the power of a good schedule.
Take care, and remember, we can do this!
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