Family routines are everything in my household. Having an after-school routine is important for children’s development and for ensuring they get the most out of their time outside of school. But as a mom after-school routines help keep everyone balanced myself included. And this is so key.
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Psychologists and educators recommend a set of specific activities as after-school routines provide structure and help children wind down from the day and prepare for homework and bed.
As a mom, I want to make sure my children have balance and free time. And so I ensure we include free play every day. Children need play for all sorts of reasons.
Our after-school schedule
1. Park/Play time
2. Snack time
3. Empty backpack
4. Sort paperwork
5. Review school-issued tablet/laptop
6. Do homework
7. Free play /screen time before dinner
As soon as the school bell rings my son is asking to play at the park which is what we do. Allowing him time to blow off some steam. He also gets to play with friends in an unstructured environment.
During the day kids are supposed to be focused on learning and so having the opportunity to hang out with friends right after school works really well.
We spend anywhere from 30-45 mins depending on the day, school work, and/or after-school activities, we may have. This is one part where you see flexibility.
I have found that being able to just play before we start anything school/study-related actually helps him focus more and we experience less tension if he is having a hard day.
We are walkers 85% of the time and so we walk home after the park which gives my kids the opportunity to talk about their day and share anything they want.
I don’t ask them “How was your day?” because that question leads to nothing. Instead, I like to ask:
- What was your favorite part of today?
- Did you learn anything fun or cool today?
- How was lunch?
- Did you play any games in recess or gym?
I find my kids normally kinda have either a lot to say or not much to say and the questions can help me navigate to a better understanding of how their days actually went.
And sometimes my kid just walks ahead and doesn’t say a word. Because motherhood is like that sometimes. Just always try to keep an open line of communication but be ready when your kid wants to talk.
What should I do as soon as I get home from school?
As soon as the kids walk in the door we have a cleansing routine. Cleaning everything the kids bring home from school daily is a must for me. The amount of germs kids carry is gross.
Now don’t think this is some intense cleaning routine. It’s simple and doable You can read my post above for the full run-down. But I keep it really simple by using Clean Smart spray as my go too.
The kids place their shoes on the rack in the mudroom. We don’t wear shoes inside our home. This also avoids looking for shoes in the morning and keeps everything organized.
Pro tip: Only keep shoes out that you are currently wearing all others or off-season shoes are kept in each person’s closet.
The next thing we do is wash our hands before we touch anything. On rare occasions, I may ask them to change an outfit if they clearly have dirt and are all sweaty.
It’s rare that my kids will have to change their clothes. But sometimes they may need it.
- Wash Hands
- Spray down all kid’s stuff
- Change clothes (if needed)
Why kids need after-school routines
The lack of balance and jumping from all-day school right into homework can be hard. Kids sit all day and when they come home from school they are full of energy.
The afterschool routine can help streamline the process for everyone. From keeping school paperwork organized, figuring out what needs to be worked on first, plus I am able to focus on each child individually. Having a flexible after-school routine also allows you to adjust based on workload and extra curriculum activities.
Snack time and unpack time
After the kids have washed their hands I prep a snack or the kids pick something from the snack bins in the pantry. I prefer to fill the snack bin with things they can easily grab and things that I am ok with them having. If they are really hungry then we will make something.
During snack is my opportunity to sort through all the school paperwork and file it or take action on it. I also check bookbags and lunch bags for leftovers or other random things my kids collect.
Also, the time to look over all the paper projects you aren’t going to be keeping. As much as we love the artwork not everything is a keeper. You can read more about how I handle my kid’s paperwork here.
I use a file system to help me sort the paperwork so I stay organized and if there are updated events or things I need to remember that is coming up. I will add them to our visual command center and then also to my Google calendar.
Getting through homework
On the days when my kids don’t have any after-school activities, we go straight into homework after snack time. Typically start with whatever is on the school tablet and then do all paperwork home that has been given.
For my toddler, I will set her up with tablet learning time or some activity to keep her busy.
When homework time goes sour
If you ever had tears during homework time or days when your kids are into it. We all have them. We take breaks and do a fun activity. I believe in and practice gentle parenting. And the understanding that kids can kid overwhelmed too.
Afterschool routine when we have extra curriculum activities
Afterschool activities can be a lot of fun and great for kids. But they also put stress on the daily routine. So fitting in homework and snack time is tough.
Typically I will pre-pack the afterschool snack and we use a mesh basket system that keeps all the kid’s things they need for each activity organized. That way whatever things they need for the activity they are participating in they can easily grab it and go.
How to get your afterschool routine into practice
If you dread the afterschool chaos that can sometimes happen. Kids all-over one asking for help the other trying to shove their project in your face.
The best thing to do for everyone is to be consistent. It can turn into a tornado everyone talking at the same time screaming for attention. So it’s important to stay consistent. You actually will find calm in the routine and then you can stay calmer. And kids are calmer in knowing what is expected of them and that everyone will get the attention they need.
How do you make an after-school schedule?
- Write down all the days you have after-school activities
- Determine what you will do on days you don’t have activities vs ones when you do
- Make a schedule with your kids, ask for their input or ideas
- Make a visual schedule everyone can see
- Practice the routine until is becomes a habit
- Adjust the routine as things change
If you are looking for more fun ways to do use visual routines and end power struggles. Check out this blog post on easy-to-do visual schedule ideas.
After-school Routine benefits
Having an after-school routine is important for children’s development and for ensuring they get the most out of their time outside of school. But these are the major benefits.
• Break the cycle of overextending your child.
• Build a healthy routine that makes them happy, healthy, and ready for bed.
• Create a happy, healthy, and organized home.
And at the end of the day, you will feel less stress.
With so many responsibilities to juggle, it can be difficult to get everything done in the day. The last thing you want to think about is what you should do after school.
Needing some other ideas for getting organized during the school season. Check out these posts.
What have you found that has worked in your after-school routine?