Back to school can be a stressful time, and not only for the students!
As parents, we want to make sure that we’re setting our kids up for success in any way we can. Education strategist Dwayne Matthews knows this, and in response has constructed a four-step plan to help us do just that, and make sure our young Einstein’s get the most out of their school year as possible.
Map out a schedule
One of the first things teachers do to organize their school year is create a schedule of what the students will do and when – from when they eat to exercise to read and write.
- Create a weekday schedule for before school and then after school in 30-minute segments
- Create a weekend schedule from morning to night in one-hour sections
- Keep in mind daycare drop off/pick up, when your child will be with a caregiver or when they may be on their own (depending on their age), family time and sleep.
Once the framework of your week is complete you will want to co-create the schedule with your child. If they are a part of creating it they will be more likely to follow it, which is really the key here.
Brainstorm on your priorities/and activities for the week
- Put everything down on paper first to see what your musts and your maybes are
- For example, a MUST is “brush your teeth”; a MAY might be some time on the Playstation
- Think of things like dinner time, down time (exactly what is that? Reading? Riding a bike? TV?), exercise, hygiene routines, chores, and other responsibilities
- Be sure to put down any extra-curricular activities that go on before or after school
- Be specific, and add-in the amount of time require when necessary. (ex. Gymnastics 6-8pm M/W)
- You are going to want to start to figure out what can fit into a weeknight and what can be done on the weekend.
- Think about time that is needed to do homework – approximately 10 mins per grade. However, asking just how much homework to expect would be a great question for your child’s ‘meet the teacher night’.
It is really important to allow your child to get everything that is important to them on the brainstorm paper/chart so that they feel heard and respected. Not everything can fit in the weekday, and you may definitely want to limit certain activities – but do not say NO to anything at this step.
Set some goals
After the brainstorm of all the activities that your and your child would like to include in your week, start to narrow in on what is important. This is a good time to set some goals – a skill you will want to model, and help them construct for the future.
Help your child decide on 2-3 goals that they would like to achieve this year. Make them specific, and set a time frame to check in and note down how will you know when they achieve them. For example: specific goal is: to read 15 mins everyday
Think about making an academic goal, personal and/or social goal. For example:
- Personal: ‘I want to make sure and complete my homework assignments on time.’
- Academic: ‘I would like to actually read a whole book from cover to cover.’
- Social: ‘I think our family should start a games night.’
Populate your schedule with your goals in mind
Fill in your schedule starting with all the MUST’s first – sleeping, eating, shower, extra-curricular, or homework. Look at where you have open spaces and put in activities that will help you meet your goals.Make sure you mapped out all the time slots. Even free time should have a slots, and the free time activities should pull from the list you have brainstormed. For example, free time could include playing outside, drawing, or even lying on my bed and staring at the ceiling.
The idea is to make sure you have set aside time to meet your goals. If one of the goals you have agreed upon is making sure not to forget school items at home, build in time in the schedule to pack up the school backpack the night before to avoid the morning rush.
If your goal is to read 15 minutes each night, build 15 minutes into the schedule to read (after school, after dinner or before bed, maybe even in the morning).