This blog comes courtesy of Bethany Owens, Director of School is Easy Pristina. Bethany is an accomplished secondary-level teacher and university-level tutor in English, math, and criminal justice. She received a Bachelor of Criminal Justice in 2011 and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice in 2012 from Tiffin University in Ohio, USA. During her university studies, she worked on campus as a peer instructor and tutor. In this blog, Bethany gives her expert advice on creating a routine for your child this new school year.
Summer can be a fun and relaxing time for children as they take a much-deserved break from school. However, daily life during those long breaks is far different from the consistent routines established during the school year. Children can pick up bad habits during this time. Such as decreased activity, low motivation, poor eating choices, and chaotic sleeping patterns.
These behaviours are counterproductive to academic success during the new school year. And they can contribute to a difficult transition back to school.
There is an impactful way to minimize the stressors of starting a new academic year. This year, co-create a school year routine with your child. Involving your child in the planning increases the likelihood they will follow through. Because choices and input both motivate children.
And, children can tailor the school routine plan to fit their interests and needs. Of course, children need parental guidance during the planning. This will ensure a healthy balance of academics, social activities, and family time.
Step 1: Identify potential problems
Think back to the beginning of last school year. What were some significant problems that your child experienced? Was it waking up in the morning? Missing the bus to school? Forgetting to do homework assignments?
Brainstorm with your child the problems that happened last year. You can even take some time to brainstorm problems that you foresee happening this year. Especially if they are changing schools or your family’s circumstances have changed.
Depending on the child’s age, a list of 5-10 potential problems is an excellent start. You can further discuss these problems with your child. Including the impact those problems had on them academically, emotionally, and socially.
Rank the problems from the most problematic to the least problematic. You and your child want to co-create a school year routine that addresses their biggest challenges.
Step 2: Find out the root cause
So now you and your child have identified the problems and discussed them. Next, the goal is to develop a routine that includes potential solutions.
Unfortunately, certain problems are outside the control of the child or family. So, before generating possible solutions, you must discover the root causes of the problem. A way to determine the root cause of a problem is by asking why at least five times. And this is not an interrogation, but rather an exploration. For example, take the problem of oversleeping.
Question 1: Why did you oversleep? Answer 1: I was tired.
Q2: Why were you tired? A2: Because I was up late.
Q3: Why were you up late? A3: I was on my phone.
Q4: Why were you on your phone? A4: I was talking with friends.
Q5: Why were you talking with friends so late? A5: I was busy doing homework earlier.
Based on the child’s answer, one can determine that the problem stems from the child’s inability to properly balance time spent on homework, friends, and sleeping. A solution could be to create an after school routine that sets aside a designated amount of time for each of these things.
Remember, it’s essential to ask questions that will lead to the discovery of the problem’s root cause. If you have to ask more than five “why” questions need to determine the root cause, then do so. If your child becomes defensive or restless with the repeated questions, you can rephrase the question. Instead, start with what, when, where, or how. Instead of “Why did you oversleep?”, you can ask, “What is the reason for you oversleeping?”
Also, you do not need to ask the questions one after another. Instead, you can integrate them into a conversation about the problems experienced at the beginning of last school year. Or their expectations for the new school year.
Step 3: Generate potential solutions
Now, you both know the problems and their causes. So generating solutions that address the problem will be much easier. For example, take the problem of oversleeping. A solution is to have an after school routine that includes homework, spending time with friends, and going to bed at a decent time.
Again, brainstorm and discuss these solutions with your child. Perhaps spending time with friends for an hour after school and then doing homework is a better option than spending an unrestricted amount of time on the phone during the night.
You and your child will probably present multiple solutions, along with some compromises. Pick the best one for your child and family. If deciding becomes difficult, consider the potential outcomes of the solutions. What is their impact on your child, your family, and others?
Also, only choose solutions within your child and family’s ability to change. Proposing that your child’s school changes its start time to prevent him or her from oversleeping and being late is not a reasonable solution.
Write the solutions as “I will…” statements so that the child is accountable for the action.
- I will spend 1 hour after school socializing with friends.
- I will complete all my homework without the distraction of my phone.
- I will go to bed at 8:00 pm.
Avoid using negatives within the statements. Your child may view statements that include “no” and “not” as restrictive rules rather than positive actions. Instead of “I will not use my phone after 7:00 pm,” the statement could be “I will stop using my phone at 7:00 pm”. Or, “I will put my phone on bedtime mode at 7:00 pm.”
These solutions presented in “I will…” statements are the basis for a co-created child-centred routine. Ideally, each addressed problem should have at least one “I will…” statement as its solution. You and your child may notice some patterns or similar solutions. And you can group related statements to address multiple problems. Remember to keep the statements as actions that the child can do. Even if you, as the parent, may need to assist the child with the task.
Step 4: Start the routine
After you both create the solution statements, use them to create a routine. Then start the routine at the beginning of the new school year. Starting the school routine at the beginning of the year ensures that the behaviours will become habits for the whole year. And your child will be better prepared academically, socially, and emotionally.
For younger children, you may have to introduce a few solutions at a time over an extended period. If so, you can return to your prioritized list of problems. Then focus on the solutions for the most problematic issues.
Remember to be patient and stay positive while starting a new routine. Stick with the routine and make adjustments to it throughout the school year using the previous steps with your child.
With a co-created child-centred routine, your child can succeed in school this year! Another way to help your child succeed in school is with School is Easy Tutoring. Give your child the extra help and attention they need to learn. Whether the subject is mathematics, English, social studies, science or another. Our professional tutors can assist them so they fully understand their subjects.
Unlock your child’s inner hero with our tutoring services! Contact us today for more information on how you can get started