Leaving homework, dinner schedules, and bedtimes to chance has a tendency to create chaos and frustration during possibly the only family time of the day. Establishing a routine does not have to mean never allowing for flexibility, but it gives parents and children alike the feeling of comfort that comes from knowing what is expected.
Children may begin to receive homework assignments as early as Kindergarten. Oftentimes in these early educational years, it falls to the parents to motivate children to finish their homework. Even in the later part of a child’s education, he or she may need structure and guidance. Some families choose the time directly after school to get homework done for the day. Others feel it may be better to allow children to decompress after a long day of concentration and constant social interaction. Should a child complete homework before or after dinner? The answer to that question depends upon the dinner, extracurricular activities, and bed times for each family. Determine which times are best for your child to sit down to homework. Once a routine is established, there should be less fighting about getting it done, fewer homework assignments turned in late, and happier parents and children.
A dinner schedule that works for the whole family is beneficial to everyone. Predictable meal times will encourage children to refrain from ruining their appetite with snacking. Children and parents should work together to put dinner on the table for a family meal. For some families that might mean one person either cooks or picks up food on the way home. Someone else then sets the table, and another family member fills drink cups.
Bedtime is another aspect of the afterschool routine that should be consistent. Younger students require more supervision and earlier bedtimes. Whether you incorporate a time for reading together or alone, children will benefit from an opportunity to lie quietly and cultivate the habit and skill of reading for pleasure.
Afterschool routines may change from year to year and from family to family as there are many factors involved such as age, siblings, and parents’ work schedules. Maintaining a consistent and reliable routine will give your child a feeling of stability during the formative years of his or her youth.
Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt.com where you can find over 400 lists and planning pages including a Back to School Planner, Homework Schedules, Calendars and many more and also of List Mama Blog: Lists for List-Lovin’ Mamas.