Sunday, September 12, 2010

day 239: creating an after-school routine for a successful evening

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn…” Carl Rogers

I know, I know…this blog is filled with things that you, the parent, have to do. Believe me, I know it feels overwhelming and even unfair, at times, to have such a huge responsibility as raising sons and daughters. So much to think about in raising children for the Lord. We have to be good examples of what we want our kids to become; we have to be in charge of their eating and healthy habits; we have to discipline them so that they grow up with self-control; we have to oversee their education and spiritual development; we have to teach them God’s Word; and on and on.

Today we are starting a series on study skills. And regardless of whether we homeschool or send our children to a school, we are truly responsible for their education (as well as the condensed list from the first paragraph). The first study skill that I would like to present to you is that of developing a study environment/routine for success—starting with that all-important after school hour.

A couple of years ago we had an editor working for us who had three children (elementary) in school. One day I stopped by after school to drop off a document and found what I would consider to be one of the most ideal after-school practices (as far as helping her children with school is concerned).

This gal was standing at the bar with backpacks open in front of her. All three children were seated at the table eating snacks that she had laid out for them when they got off the bus. Mom was opening each backpack, checking to see what each child brought home, looking through homework folders, etc. and dialoguing with the kids about upcoming assignments, what their day was like, etc.

Contrast this with kids coming home, dropping backpacks on the floor of the back porch, grabbing a Twinkie, and going in to the tv or game system.

Yes, kids did just work hard all day at school. Yes, they do need breaks. However, taking part in an after-school routine with Mom or Dad, such as the one described above, does a number of things:

1. The parent, not the child, is determining snacks. I am sure kids are starving when they get home from school. And we all know that when we are hungry, we often reach for convenience, not health. Mom can have healthier snacks ready than what the child might choose.

2. Mom is checking homework right away—not hoping that the child remembers later. No surprises at ten o’clock!

3. There is uninterrupted (by electronics, anyway) dialogue about the kids’ day.

4. In the long run, kids will actually have more free time in the evenings if things are at least checked when student first gets home. They might not have it when they first walk in the door, but there will be a plan for the evening’s activities and schedule—and play time/electronics time may be earned by completing assignments, etc.

5. Lets Mom and Dad know how much they will be needed that evening. No mom or dad likes to be told at ten p.m. that the child needs poster board for tomorrow!

6. Mom can find things lurking/hiding in the backpack—field trip permission slips, note from the teacher, etc.

Now obviously, this is just one scenario that would work. And, once again, the success of this depends on each family’s priorities. If a family prioritizes after school activities or sports, then this meeting might not take place until later in the evening. Each family has to make those choices.

Homeschoolers can benefit from these ideas, as well. My children do much better with their daily chore and school charts when I check them every afternoon before they get “off” for the day.

Homeschoolers and school-away kids alike benefit from accountability and structure. It is our job as parents to provide both of these.

Tomorrow: Dad’s role in helping kids with homework. Upcoming: study schedules, pre-reading strategies, test preparation ideas, and more.

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