(This post is part of a series of 5 blogs meant to help families of children grades K-3 cope with school this fall. Links to the other four at the end of this post)
The day is already divided into certain sections. There is a block between breakfast and lunch, then there is another block between lunch and dinner. After dinner, there is a small block until bedtime.
Expectations also fall into categories: work, active, self-care, chores, and quiet time.
You know your child(ren) and how long they can focus on each activity before they need a change.
What remains is some prioritization and limit setting.
When virtual school is on, teachers will take care of organizing the day for your family. It is the other days that you need to organize, so Let's focus on asynchronous days.
This step depends on your schedule.
You have work that needs to get done. What are your natural breakpoints like? Do you think you can take a quick 2-5 minute break every 30 minutes or so? Would every hour feel more realistic? However long these intervals are, you want to make sure that your kids have something to keep them busy during that time.
Let's say you have an hour. You notice that your child needs a break every 10-15 minutes, but tends to lose track of time when coloring or when playing with lego. In this case, you want to set this particular hour along the lines of:
2 sheets of work + feed the fish (or quick distraction) +
2 sheets of work + go up and down the stairs 3 times +
Quiet reading time + Journal or answer questions +
When done with all this work, free time with their favorite activity will keep children busy until you come in to check. Tip: You might want to set up a checklist and/or dropoff box for finished work so they don't interrupt in the middle of a meeting.
During your break, you want to check in on your child, check the work done, assign new work, and give some sign of encouragement; a hug, a star, a compliment, a high-five...etc.
It is okay if you misjudge some days, it happens ALL the time. The solution is to overprepare just in case and to understand that every day is going to be a little different and that it is okay. Don't stress over it.
Shifting your children to an activity they like to do once their work is done will make up for too little work without interrupting you, and it will feel like a reward to them for getting their work done.
Yes, of course, finding that daily routine will take some preparation. You will find that as kids settle into this new routine, they will find ways to keep themselves busy and become more independent, which in turn will give you more time to get things done.
To set your expectations you will need some practice, so I suggest discussing the plan during the week before actually starting, and starting off on a weekend or whenever your time is a bit more flexible. Get feedback from your family and adjust accordingly.
Tip: When your child interrupts you, watch for signs of :
* Too much work or level too hard (out of energy, easily distracted, or disengaged)
* Too little or level too easy (restless and fidgety)
* Hunger, thirst (cranky, out of energy)
Final tip: Overprepare! It will help to have a trick or two up your sleeve at all times. Worst case scenario, you will end up using it later.
* Activity books are easy to find on Amazon or in local book stores. Summer prep books are typically full of activities that are either divided by topic or integrated sheets. Complete grade by grade options are also available as well as single subject/single skill-building books.
* All sorts of supplies and classroom furniture at teacher supply shops. They have some fun board games too. Check out Lakeshore Learning or search for local shops.
* Printable sheets are all over the internet. I am personally a big fan of Teachers Pay Teachers exactly for that reason! Teachers work hard and they deserve to be paid for their work.
More from this series to help families with children grades K-3 get their homes and families ready for school this fall:
* Create A Productive Routine For Your Family (This Post)