After school can be one of the most chaotic times of the day for kids and parents. After a long day, an after school routine for kids helps ease minds and eliminates some chaos.
Getting Off the Bus
To me, the first moments I see my kids are very important. In those first steps off the bus, you can tell quite a bit about a child’s mood and day. It also helps set the tone for the whole evening.
Since my oldest was in kindergarten, I have met him at the bus stop or at the end of our long drive. Now that he is older, he runs into the house, often playing a game of “catch me if you want to hug me.” My youngest usually walks to the house by my side, often holding my hand as we walk.
This is our first opportunity to reconnect, so I try to make sure my first words to my children are said lovingly, followed by a hug. The most important part of my after school routine is making moments to reconnect with my children.
Bathroom and Hand Washing
When my children were in younger, I told them to use the bathroom right after school before they would eat their snack. Now that they are older, they understand they need to wash their hands before snack and use the bathroom when needed. I still have to remind them about hand washing from time to time.
No after school routine would be complete without snack time. Kids are always hungry when they get home from school. I admit I learned my current strategy by trial and error. Before my children get home, I now sit snacks out for both of them in front of their seats at the table with a nice glass of water. Each of them get two snack choices. This I way I make sure they have healthier choices readily available when they are hungry and more likely to eat them.
I learn the most about my children’s days typically within the first 10 minutes after they get off the bus. The biggest events of the day typically spill out of them on the walk up the lane or while they are eating snacks. During an after school routine, the first 10 minutes is a key time to be available to your children.
As my children finish up their snacks, I grab their backpacks and pull out the papers sent home for the day. I still make myself available by stopping and listening with my full attention if they want to share something. I also comment and ask about the paperwork they brought home as I sort the papers into a keep pile and a recycle pile.
My oldest usually starts his homework on his own because he knows as soon as it is done, he will be able to play. My youngest still needs an adult’s help to actually complete her homework. As soon as she is done with her snacks and I am done sorting paperwork, we start on homework together.
Put Stuff Away
Before the kids go play, they need to put their coats and shoes away. I confess that I typically put their backpacks away because I have to sign my daughter’s reading logs. I also prefer to make sure my son’s epipen bag is put back in his book bag. Lunchboxes are put away in the kitchen when I get papers out of their backpacks.
After homework is done, my kids know they can go play. After school, they are definitely ready for time to unwind and play. My son likes to use video games as a way to relax. My daughter likes to draw or listen to music. Knowing that they will get to do their preferred activities after homework is done, helps motivate them.
Once homework is done, I start making supper. I used to worry about having supper on the table at the same time each night, but that doesn’t always happen due to how long it takes for me to help with homework.
If an after school routine isn’t working, get curious and ask why. Why isn’t it working? What do your kids need? What is a simple change that might help? Some kids might need to go outside and run around to unwind from their day before they do homework. We tried doing homework after supper, and that just didn’t work for us.
Try a routine for a week, then tweak it the next week if needed. Find an after school routine that works best for your family and your kids. And remember, some night require some flexibility.