Benefits of an After School Routine
Having a great after school routine allows you to connect with your children in ways you never thought possible. They are normally bursting with excitement and full of stories from the day they had learning from teachers and playing with friends. All they want to do is tell me you every detail of what happened.
Hearing all of the stories from your children can often be a difficult task. They normally want to tell you what happened during their day all at the same time and with very loud voices, which normally results in a yelling match. To make this process run a little smoother, you can set up a great after school routine that is far more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Here is the process we go through for our after school routine:
As soon as the kids get home from school they place their lunch boxes and school notes on the kitchen bench and put their school bags in their room. They also get any homework out of their bags and place it on the dining room table. This way I can see what they ate for lunch (or what they did not eat for lunch!) and the school bags are out of the way so we do not trip over them as we try to talk to each other. They are also then prepared to start any homework that needs to be done that night. I also ask them to place homework on the dining room table so that I can see who has school work that needs to be completed.
We always sit down at the table after school for a snack. I mix it up with having healthy snacks and treats during the week. Having a snack available for the kids to eat helps them to relax and hang around the table longer so then they will have a chat to me, (great for teenagers who are not as willing to share as much some days), and helps to hold them off until dinner time. Chatting about the day over a nice muffin or dip and crackers is so much more fun than just sitting at the table and talking.
As the children tell me stories of what happened during the day I also ask them questions to keep track of how they are really doing at school. I have three questions that I always ask my children: Who did you play with today? What games did you play? How did you feel at school today? I have found that asking these three questions has helped me to find out who my children’s friends are, what type of games they are playing and if they are appropriate or not and how they are generally feeling at school. It also allows me to find out if any of my children may have been bullied and if they have been hurt in any way. You may notice that I do not specifically ask any questions about what they learned about at school that day. My children generally tell me the answer to that question in the stories they tell me and I save those type of questions for when we are doing homework together.
After the snack and chat, it is time for some fun together. The kids have been learning and sitting in a class room most the day so we always go outside and play some games together, do a family workout, use the play equipment, go for a walk or bike ride, anything to get the laughter and blood flowing.
If it happens to be raining or to cold we will always do some activity together inside. It is a good idea to get everyone to choose 2 or 3 indoor and outdoor activities they like and put them in a jar and everyone has a turn at picking one out for the family to enjoy. The kids love to come up with new ideas to put in the ‘Fun Jar’.
After snack, chat and play is over I then help my children do homework. During this time of helping them with homework I then continue to talk to any children I may be worried about or feel that need some extra attention. I might hug them a little more, give them some extra praise or even take them aside to ask them if there is anything they want to talk to me about privately. I also use this time to discuss with them any issues that may have come up during our after school chat.
I have found it very beneficial to put the time and energy into establishing a good after school routine. It has taken consistency and planning to make it happen and now as a family we are feeling the wonderful benefits that