Summer was sweet. Summer camps and pancakes with maple syrup. Staying out a little later to see the fireworks. The kids' first weekend at Grandma's....aaah.
BAM. Then it happens. You're off to meet the teacher. Off to purchase school supplies. Alarms ringing. Paperwork signing. Extracurricular juggling. Messes accumulating and chaos abound. But it doesn't have to be that way.
As a teacher I got this question a lot from a few exasperated parents:
"How are you able to manage ALL of these kids at the same time?"
With less chaos, less stress, less mess.
As every teacher knows, the answer lies in the "P" word. Procedures.
As adults we don't think much about how to walk into a room or how and where to put your bag upon entering your home. But these are the things practiced over and over again, explicitly and literally during the first 2 weeks of school.
It may seem silly teaching and practicing these things, but if you're looking to be proactive and less stressed this year, routines are key.
Every family is different. Figure out what works best for you. Happy parents=happy children. Answer these questions first to help you decide on your own new beautiful procedures.
Many times backpacks get left in cars. Homework never leaves it, and kids who've been sitting all day race to their freedom. You're not a bad parent to have a few rules before they run out to play for a bit.
By developing these habits of having a place for everything, they'll learn organization, keep the house less cluttered, and less physical clutter=less mental clutter.
Working in a Montessori school changed my perspective on education in more ways than one. One idea in particular was a real game changer:
"If the child can do it, they should do it."
All of a sudden I had a student job chart and WOW what a I change I saw!
Pridefully and very seriously, six year olds sharpened pencils, wiped down tables, washed and dried dishes, watered plants, fed fish. All of the things I had been doing, they did.
Honestly I wasn't sure what was age appropriate, but I am always surprised by how much I underestimate what a child can do. This can be a disservice. Jobs are teaching moments. They are moments that can foster responsibility, character, and independence.
Have them help make the grocery list on Sundays (reading/writing), skip count and divide the grapes between lunch boxes (math), wash and dry their old containers (life). These can be wonderful ways to connect with each other as well after a long day.
Reading & Homework Silent Time
This can be your sanctuary time.
However, you have to set it up as so. If your child begins to rely solely on you as the one to help remind them and guide them through their homework, it can be a hard switch having them often begrudgingly regain that responsibility for themselves.
Having the same place and time every weekday will mean no reminders. It can be fun as well to work with your child on brainstorming their "office." A place in the home, in which they remain in eye sight, but away from any distractions (TV, younger siblings playing if possible) is ideal. Special "office" pencils, pillows, etc. can help make this their sanctuary time too.
Structure this time in a way that is ideal for you. Perhaps the first thirty minutes is the silent time. Your child works on their easiest work first, then circling the problems that they'll need help with later.
Reading time doesn't necessarily have to be at the same time as other homework. I've known families that have a "family reading hour." Instead of watching tv together in the evenings, they all get out a book and silently read.
Practice Consistent Expectations
My first year of teaching I made the mistake of thinking at the end of the first day, "wow, I think they've got it!" My students lined up silently, elegantly, like a tiny sized army. I bet you can guess what happened on day two when I did not have them practice...
Practice, repetition, consistency. These are the pillars of procedures. You may have to "re-teach" your routines after weekends, holidays, sick days, etc.
Do not let up on your expectations. This is where many teachers go towards the end of the school year. We're tired and start letting a few things slide. This is where it can unwind the positive habits we work so hard to teach.
Consistency is key. If things slip one day, it's okay. Get back on the horse the next day. It's like exercise. It's easy when you're tired and miss a run to start slipping into "tomorrow land." Tomorrow I'll get up early and run...
The way to break the pattern is to ask, "what can I do right now?"
So even if it's just for 5 minutes today, what can you and your child do right now?