Now that everybody’s been back-to-school for a few weeks, the novelty is fading and the excitement is wearing off. Everyone is settling into their routines and patterns are emerging. Some good, some not so. Here are a few suggestions to keep the school year routines running smoothly and improve your outlook for the months ahead.
· Increasing morning independence
Are you having to remind your child what to do next, every step of the way? Try a visual schedule with pictures or written explanations of each of their morning activities. There are great apps that can be helpful and may be more fun for your child to use. As they complete each step provide checkmarks, stickers, or tokens/beads in a jar to collect for rewards later.
· Provide Choices
Providing as many choices as possible can increase compliance and the overall mood of the morning. Choosing the order of their routine, pieces of clothing, breakfast or lunch items, lunch boxes, or even what toothpaste they use can make children feel more involved, confident, and in control of their day.
To make the morning flow more enjoyable, try making a morning soundtrack or let your child choose what they want to listen to that morning. You can always use this to keep things moving. Assign a task to each song and make it a game. “Let’s see if you can be dressed before Hakuna Matata is over!”
· Keep it positive
Keep conversations about school positive as often as possible. If everyday they come home you bombard them with questions about how the test went or how far they are on your project, and what’s for homework, you might get less answers and more eye rolls. Don’t forget to ask about their favorite parts of the day, “What did you do in art class today?” “What did you and your friend do at recess today?” Maybe try holding off on the topics that might not be as fun and see if they’ll bring them up on their own. The goal is to get your children talking to you about the day – the good, the bad, and the confusing. Of course don’t pass over the important stuff, but try to make the topic less of a drag.
· Evening routine
Pack bags and maybe even lunches the night before. Go through “home” folders and make sure everything is signed and homework and supplies are completed and packed for the next day. Try laying out clothes or picking out breakfast items to ensure the morning goes as smoothly as possible.
Homework can often be the most challenging part of the day. Oftentimes the after-school break can make for some tricky transitions. Letting them have an hour or two with their favorite things to blow off some steam, may make getting back on track the day’s biggest challenge. If a half hour of iPad time after school always results in a tantrum when it’s time to get started on homework, it might be helpful to save this reward for after homework. Try to keep the momentum going. Try a short snack and family conversation but not activities that will be really hard to pull them away from later. The rest of the evening will likely go more smoothly and might make homework that much faster.
Still not finding a good groove? Ask your BCBA for suggestions or additional support in getting everybody on the right foot. Every child (and family) may find different things work best for them. Let us help find what works for you!