Sunday, August 26, 2012

For Those Attending School--Tip #11: Create Consistent After School Routines

Tip #11: Develop Consistent After School Routines


“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 I would like to continue this “back to school series” for those who attend school with a post I wrote a couple of years ago about developing effective after school routines. As I said earlier in this series, I have homeschooled for nearly thirty years, so I don’t have a lot of “going to school” experience, but when I see someone doing something that seems to work, I love to pass that along!

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 kitchen 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.

Homeschool Tip #11: Develop a Love for Learning in Your Children

Tip 11: Develop a Love for Learning in Your Children
 We have entire articles and multi-part workshops on how to develop a love for learning in your children. So, writing a few paragraphs about this topic if a challenge! (To read the many parts of a lengthy article called “Creating a Love for Learning in Your Homeschool,” go to .)
First of all, though, I will say that a love for learning is usually not developed in a child who is pushed to learn things for which he is not ready. Period.  It just makes sense. Of course, if a child struggles and struggles to learn to read, and we push and push day after day—even though reading readiness has not been realized, that child will grow to hate reading, learning, and oftentimes, school and homeschooling.
Secondly,  model a love for learning for your children. Your children want to be just like you! They might not say it. They might say just the opposite at times, but the fact is, they want to be just like Mom and Dad.
The beginning of teaching our children any skill is to model that skill for them. I remember in teacher’s college when the trendy topic was SSR—Sustained Silent Reading. The goal of SSR was to set aside ten or fifteen minutes each school day to have every student reading. The superior teachers were the ones who didn’t grade papers or file their nails during SSR; they read too. The idea was that if the teacher modeled reading for her students, they would follow her example.
The same is true for homeschooling parents with modeling a love for learning. Do you force-feed your children what they need to learn, but remain stagnant in your own learning? Do you act as though you already “know it all,” so there is nothing else for you to learn? Do you seek out information about topics you are interested in learning more about?
Several years ago when we took a family vacation to Disney World®, I was able to put this “modeling a love for learning” to the test with our children.  I carried (well, whoever carried the backpack actually carried) an eight-hundred-page volume titled, The Unofficial Guide to Disney World®. I pulled it out as we traveled to each park, reading aloud about the best viewing spots for the afternoon parade, the worst hamburgers in the place, and the longest time one has to wait in the mid-morning to ride “Space Mountain.”
At first the kids teased me merciless (okay, I did have over a hundred sticky notes of various colors and sizes protruding from the sides of the book—you’re not allowed to highlight in a library book), but then they began asking me what “my book” said about this or that. Eventually, we were fighting over the book during tram, monorail, and bus rides!
On the last night, the kids insisted that I cover myself in sticky notes, scatter my “charts” around me (oh, I made charts too), and have my picture taken with my precious book. They saw firsthand how learning new information makes for a great vacation; they came to see the method to Mom's madness—and I guarantee not one of them will ever take their kids to Disney World without that book! Modeling a love for learning for our children works.