Welcome to part four in our back-to-school series: helping your kids have their best school year YET! Okay, you’ve gotten them in bed at a decent hour, you’ve feed their bodies, minds, and hearts in the morning before sending them off, and you’ve given them an extra boost at lunchtime to last them through the day. Now let’s talk about after school.
Hold The Questions
Our eldest is just done by the end of the seven-hour school day. He has used up his words. And even our preschooler, who is energized by being around a group of people all morning, is usually worn out after his three-and-a-half hour school day. Maybe you are blessed with a chatty-Cathy who cannot wait to share all the news of the day, but for my boys, that is not the case. When they get into the car at pick-up line, the last thing they want to do is answer a round of mommy questions. They need some cave time.
I am eager to find out about their days, but I suppress the urge to hit them with a barrage of questions as soon as they strap in for the drive home. I tell them how glad I am to see them, and [try to] let them drive home in peace. And even though it only takes a few minutes, I usually have a small healthy snack and drink for them. Hungry boys are cranky boys in my world.
When we walk in the door, the kids put their backpacks on their hooks, shoes in the kids’ shoe closet, and lunchboxes on the kitchen counter. If there are papers to sign or folders to see, they put those on the counter, too. Then, for our gradeschooler, we give thirty minutes of rest & decompress time. He can watch a show or play a video game or run around outside or have a snack or have quiet down time in his room alone or play with his brother. It’s his time. [Our preschooler goes down for a nap when he gets home from school, right after lunch.]
After that chance to recharge, he is ready to come to the table and do his homework. Our third-grader gathers everything he needs (folder with worksheets/instructions, weekly work from fridge magnet, pencil, eraser, etc.) and sets to work either at the kitchen table or his bedroom desk. We make a gameplan for tackling the work (maybe do the toughest thing first to get it out of the way, or maybe do the fast items first to get a few “wins” checked off the list… each child is wired differently). Then I am available for questions without hovering. I want them to own the responsibility for getting the work completed, but I also want them to sense that I have confidence in their capability to complete the work.
After homework is completed, Big Bro is cut loose once again and usually delves head-first into something with his brother, pretending to be spies or ninjas or police officers or Star Wars characters or the like, or building and playing legos.
The point is, we have a loose strategy in place to get it all done–both work and rest. And we fall into an easy rhythm of the day with the kids having predictable expectations and reliable support.
So, how do you run the afternoons around your camp to help your precious ones have their best school year yet?
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And did you catch the first installments of this back-to-school series?