For so many people, school is back in session! Whether you are at home, in school, or a blended version of the two, one thing remains constant. Routine is KEY for helping children adjust back to the school schedule.
This year was unlike any other - as of mid-March, students were home and the rest of the school year looked like a mish-mash of "distance learning" and on-the-fly decision making. Teachers and parents did the best they could with the resources they were given. Generally speaking, it is safe to say that the second half of the year was not nearly as productive as the first, and we all needed the summer to mentally recover. After last year, we all deserve to give ourselves a bit of grace as we move into this new unknown!
One tip I love to share with families is that consistency is key. In a time that is completely unique, we have to provide stability where we can to our littles! Children often find that stability in routine. If you are keeping your children home, this is going to be your saving grace. If your children are at school, they will benefit from being back in the routine of a school day, but will still need some structured time when they get home in order to process this new style of learning.
Make a Schedule and Stick to It!
Whether you use visual schedule cards or write out a schedule on a whiteboard, having a consistent schedule will help your child move calmly through their day. I've said it before, and I will say it again - predictability reduces the chances of meltdowns and frustrations. When your child knows what to expect, they can transition more easily from one activity/subject to another.
You can choose to create a daily schedule that starts at 8am, or 9am, has 2 longer breaks or 3 shorter ones - the possibilities are ENDLESS for working within what your family needs. However, keep in mind that your timing should stay the same each day. Your school day should start and end at the same time every day, and your breaks should always fall at the same time, too. We are creatures of habit and our bodies start to regulate to a schedule.
You may choose to do a Day 1/Day 2 style schedule, or a Week 1/Week 2 style schedule, it is simply a matter of personal preference. Subjects like French/Art/Music don't need to happen every day, but Literacy and Math should be core subjects that students learn Monday to Friday.
One of the Pros of running an At-Home learning program is that you can be free to change up the schedule whenever you want or need to! But Michelle.. didn't you just say to stick to a routine? Yes! I did. However, that doesn't mean that you need to be rigid. If your child is loving the math activity you planned and it's technically time for literacy, this is a great opportunity to let them explore further. As long as you plan for another time to perhaps do a shorter math period and longer literacy lesson - it's all good! As teachers, we often have to change our plans on the fly and flexibility is the key to making this work.
If you are sending your child to school, their day will be much more structured. They will need some time to adjust to their new routine. Setting up a solid after school routine will help them unwind, organize themselves and complete homework tasks more independently. For example, your child should know that every day after school they get a snack and a show from 3:30-4:15. At 4:15-5:15, they open their agenda, write down any reminders, assignments/due dates on their calendar, and then do homework/read/practice in a designated space in your house for learning. If you aren't sure what this looks like - check out my blog post about creating a space for learning in your house! If you do this every day, your child will know exactly what to expect when they get home (AKA, no more fights about homework!).
Routine builds stability and predictability. It helps with executive functioning skills and will help children foster independence.
If you need more support with this, or have any questions - please feel free to reach out!