Back To School Routines
by Angie Ketcham
It’s that time of year again for going back to school. It's always a challenge in my home to come out of the lazy days of summer and transition back into the routine of school days. By establishing some set of rules and routines for everyone in the family, you can get your kids started off on the right foot and make this year the best year yet.
Start your family’s routines off right, first thing in the morning. We've all heard it said before, but it bears repeating: Don’t let your children leave the house without a good breakfast. Experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it gets the brain focused and thinking for the rest of the day. Sometimes mornings can be rushed and crazy, as everyone is bustling to get ready. In our family, we prepare small biscuit sandwiches (with sausage patties and a slice of cheese) or a breakfast burrito(scrambles eggs, cheese, and ham) and freeze them. Then, the kids can just pop them out of the freezer, heat them in the microwave, and head out the door with food in hand. Smoothies are another great way to start your kids off right. These smoothies can be made by putting all ingredients in a blender and mixing them up. (all recipes borrowed from Sesame Street Parents June 2000)
½ cup pineapple chunks, canned or fresh
1 cup fresh strawberries, stems and leaves removed
¼ cup pineapple juice
5 ice cubes
½ cup orange juice
1 cup vanilla yogart
1 cup sliced kiwi
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
As you continue the morning routine, keep these few things in mind. First, it takes time for routines to become established. Younger children may take several years to develop routines that they can remember and stay on task. For those that are challenged, use a timer to move them from one thing to the next. When the timer goes off and they've accomplished their task, reward them with praise or stickers that they can put on a chart. For my children, we made a simple chart on a spreadsheet with each task that needed to be accomplished that morning with a picture that represented it, and left blank boxes where the stickers would go. If they accomplished everything on the list for the week, on time, they would get to pick the game that we would play for family night or have a friend come over on the weekend, or whatever reward suited that child. Stay consistent no matter how long it takes. Even the most challenged will get it one day!
When kids get home from a long day at school, a routine continues to set them up for success. Here are some thoughts when establishing evening routines: Ask to see your child’s schoolwork on a regular basis. Create a special quiet space for your child to complete their homework. Read to your child and let them see you reading. Set TV and video game time limits. Praise your child for accomplished goals.
Limit sports and extra-curricular activity to what is practical for your age child. By using these guidelines, you will create healthy routines for your child as you move into bedtime.
Bedtime routines are essential to your child’s success. First, set bed times that allow your children to receive plenty of rest. Children need 8-10 hours of sleep a night in order for their brains to recharge and be alert and ready for school each day. Be consistent on daily bedtimes. Start your routine early enough that everyone is not rushing to get into bed. Leave time for incidentals like bathroom and getting a drink. Make hygiene an important part of the routine. Also, lay out clothes and schoolwork for the next day, so you’re not frantically searching in the morning, causing stress as you’re heading out the door. Spend time before bed with your child talking about their day and sharing a time of prayer and devotional. And never let them go to bed without letting them know that you love them.
Most importantly, prayer for our children must be considered top priority in our lives. There are many challenges that kids face in this age that expose them to a sinful world. It is our job to make sure we protect them by covering them in prayer. There are many resources for good prayers to pray over our children. My personal favorites are “Watchmen on the Walls: Praying Character Into Your Child” by Gary Harrell and “Power of a Praying Parent” by Stormie OMartian. Find one that works for you and pray over your children everyday.
May God’s blessings be over you and your family as you begin a new year of school!