Time to Read: 2-3 min
There’s a beauty and a beast with having an after school routine for your child at home. The beauty of having a set routine is that everyone knows what’s expected, and there are positive teaching moments for independence, self-help skills, and responsibility. But this structure can also be a beast if you’re not all in agreement or if it’s too strict, leading to arguments and nagging.
Your successful routine will require balance between what your child wants and needs and what your family wants and needs. Everyone needs to be involved.
When I was a child, there was only one thing I wanted to do when I got home: relax! I wanted to run in the leaves, play with my friends, and be free to choose what I wanted to do. If I saw a clock with shaded areas outlining activities at a specific time, a chore chart, or anything resembling a list, I would lose it.
Routines certainly have a place, but they need to be introduced in a way that is unique for each child and situation. Your routine may start in the afternoon or when you return from work in the evening. Before you outline everything that needs to be done after school such as homework, putting bags away, and chores, start by observing and asking your child what they would like to do with their time. Your child needs to be involved in building their after school routine if you want them to do it.
My mom and I worked together on our routine, and while I didn’t get Kraft Dinner and dinosaur chicken nuggets (dinosaur shapes made them taste better) for supper every day, I did get a say in what took place. It was a great opportunity for me to build my negotiation and reasoning skills. It even gave me a sense of pride knowing that I helped build something and when I accomplished all my tasks. It taught me that I had responsibilities as a member of the family.
Positive reinforcement or rewards may need to be part of solidifying the routine as well. My chores included setting the table, putting my toys away, and walking our dog, Shade, that I promised I would walk when we first got her. As a parent, you may know how that story ends.
My reward was my dad reading my favourite stories to me: The Berenstain Bears – complete with sound effects.
A balanced routine will include the chores to be completed and the fun activities your child enjoys. Consider trying the ‘High-Five’ technique. Have your child trace their hand and write down one responsibility per finger that they must complete each day. It’s less overwhelming than a list and helps strengthen your child’s memory. Follow this with time for fun and relaxation too!
As children walk through the door, one thing they will all likely have in common is the hunger drama. Stop the hunger drama before it happens with a ‘snack-and-go’ bin of healthy snacks or try one of CBC’s small quick and healthy snack recipes. This is the perfect time to connect with your child about their day. It’s a great way for you to wind down and talk too. Remove distractions, have a snack, and chat! Is your brain malfunctioning after work? You’re not alone. Check out these conversation starters we’ve posted on our Facebook page to get beyond the “stuff” and “fine.”
Join the conversation on our Facebook page to get other ideas and share how you and your family tackle your afterschool routine!