As working adults, even after getting off work, there are still responsibilities we need to fulfill, whether for our own betterment or for our families. We have our own different routines which might include cooking dinner for the family, a late-night workout or preparing for the next day’s work.
When we were younger and still in school, our responsibilities were much less than they are now and we only got to things after our parents had to nag us (does not apply to everyone, of course). However, similar to now, we probably had some kind of after-school routine that we had (tried) to follow.
What exactly is an after-school routine?
An after-school routine is a schedule set for your child once school has ended for the day. Like how we would have set a “bedtime routine” to help the children get ready for bed and maximize their sleep, an after school routine is implemented to maximize a child’s time outside of school
After-school routines – The Good and The Bad
To add on to the benefits mentioned above, an after-school routine gives some structure during a time where a child is free to wander around. It can also prevent important tasks from being neglected such as eating meals on time, finishing homework and completing chores.
On the other side, some people might say an after-school routine is not the best for a child as it only adds on to the structure they already have to follow whilst at school. Some might also say that giving children the freedom to think and make their own decisions is the way to go.
Whichever we choose, there can always be way to maximize the pros and minimize the cons. For example, if parents feel that their child does not need more structure at home, instead of not having one at all, they can include a “break time” into the routine.
If possible, why not plan the routine with your children which can help develop their decision-making skills and some sense of responsibility. Knowing that they decided on the routine themselves, they may be even more willing to stick to it.
What to include in an after-school routine?
Every child would have different ‘ideal’ routines depending on their needs, circumstances and what parents can provide.
With that said, below are some elements parents can consider including into their children’s routine.
Just as much as a cup coffee powers a lot of us through the day or even just through one task, snacks exist to provide children the energy they need in-between meals, whether physically or as motivation.
After a day of learning and play at school, you have a child that needs to be replenished.
2. Daily recap and summary
Asking the children how their day went, what they learnt in school, what they did with their friends is a good way to get the children to open up and communicate. This benefits both parties as parents get to learn more about their children and the children will be able to better retain what they have learnt.
Unpacking their backpacks and going through their work can aid with the passing of important information from school to parents. Aside from that, parents can see if any homework needs to be completed and also how their children is faring in their academics from the returned assignments.
3. Early prep
Planning helps to avoid any last-minute realization and rushing as a result (sometimes even missing it!). Preparing for the next day should be part of the routine and parents should make sure all the right things are packed into their children’s backpacks. Keep an updated calendar and check it daily in case of a special day in school or a special activity.
4. Homework period
Some parents don’t mind letting their children do whatever they want as long as they finish their homework. With or without a routine, homework should not be neglected. In that case, should homework be completed before or after the children’s free time?
Taking a break once school ends before getting back to homework might work for some children, and getting homework out of the way first before unwinding for the rest of the day might work for others.
If homework is not heavy, this time slot could be filled with additional learning, from tutoring sessions to after-school enrichment activities.
5. Keeping it clean and tidy
Chores assigned to children will change as they grow older, but if anything, parents should instill in their children from a young age to tidy up and put things away once used. Areas like the bed and table should be kept clear so as there can be no excuses from the children that they can’t go to sleep yet or they can’t start with their homework.
At this point of the routine, children can already see the reward waiting at the end of the final task.
6. Free time before dinner
Once all tasks are done for the day, the kids can finally take their well-deserved break.
However, parents should check that all homework and chores have been properly done as children could have rushed through them to achieve this free time quicker.
So what makes a routine, a routine?
Just like its definition, a routine consists of steps and activities, but most importantly, consistency. This means that a routine is something you follow regularly with none of the steps left out.
Routines are powerful for this reason. Reinforcement of certain behaviors will allow children to spend their time efficiently and effectively at home. Carrying out the routine well on one day will help bring a positive energy to the next day, and so on.