How are you adjusting to the school year schedule? Accommodating the entire family’s schedule is a real juggling act. How can parents make this transition easier on the whole family?
To successfully get it all done, here are some tips for balancing school, extracurricular activities and home life.
Stick to a homework routine and keep on top of the homework rather than playing catch-up all of the time. When the rules are consistently enforced, your child learns that it’s useless to fight it. They’ll learn that getting right in and doing the work gives them more time to play later, while procrastination eats up any opportunity for play.
One simple rule might be that as soon as the kids get home from school, they can eat a snack, and then before doing anything else, they must do all of their homework. That includes having it thoroughly checked by a parent. Only then can they go outside to play, watch their favorite TV show or play video games.
The homework routine should include arranging everything in the backpack for the next morning. An important part of doing the homework is getting it back to school, so your kids need to get into the habit of placing homework in its proper folders and storing it in the backpack. Also make sure your child has collected everything else needed for the next day—lunch money, signed notes and replenished supplies. Once the backpack is in its special place, ready to be grabbed the next morning, then homework is done.
Organize clothing the night before. That way the morning rush won’t be so chaotic and you won’t hear, “I can’t find my…” There will be times when your child will “forget” to do something. If that’s a problem, post a list in your child’s bedroom, stick to rules, and have an appropriate consequence for the behavior.Your child will learn to be responsible for his or her own actions.
Extracurricular activities require a lot more organization. As a parent, you need to make sure that your child isn’t overscheduled; otherwise schoolwork will suffer, and family time will be neglected. Also, while we’re told that keeping children involved in structured activities will increase their chances of doing well in life, it’s possible to push them too far.
To keep it doable, let your child list all the activities by season that he or she would like to do. Research the amount of time and involvement for each of the activities to assess whether or not it’ll fit into your lives. Some activities such as sports require heavy involvement of time.
A good rule of thumb is that if your child is too young to pick an activity, you can choose to pick one or none for that child. If your child is older and wants to be involved in many activities, you can help him learn to prioritize what’s most important by allowing him to narrow the choices down to two at the maximum. With so many options available, your child might want to flit from one to another. However, it’s good to encourage them to finish one course before switching to another.
Families should eat dinner together—5 times a week if possible. This provides the stable family connections that keep children from getting involved in risky behavior. Be sure not to allow extracurricular activities to interfere with what your family values as important.
Rather than having everything in your child’s life so severely structured, be sure to allow enough time for play that uses the imagination. Yes, kids complain of being bored. However, if properly directed boredom can lead to creativity, which leads to the satisfaction of discovery, which results in a healthy self-esteem.
The goal is to have a balance between activities, schoolwork and family life. It’s a lot of work but it’s worth all the effort to create a happy, healthy life for your kids.
Carmela Guizar-Sanchez is a PAMP member and owner of Simplify Home Solutions, a lifestyle and household concierge service. She has a daughter age 7, son age 4 and just recently welcomed another son to their joyous family. You can find more of her tips at www.simplifyhomesolutions.com.
Image provided by Melissa Miller & Vinnie Fernandez, PAMP’s Lead Photographers and co-owners of C’est Jolie Photography