As soon as I learned my 10-year-old would be doing school from home three days per week, I knew we would have to create a virtual-day routine. Getting back into the school routine after summer is hard enough, and I knew if we weren’t careful those at-home days could feel like an extension of summer rather than school. Instead, I wanted the at-home days to feel like a gentler version of in-person school days. Not only did I want him to work efficiently so he could have more free time, but I needed him to take ownership of his tasks, so I could be productive at work each day too.
How do I create a routine for my kids?
First, think about your natural flow or rhythm for the day. I recommend keeping your child’s bedtime the same whether the next day is at school or from home. Consider tweaking the wake-up time just a tiny bit though. When does your child naturally wake up? For my 10-year-old, his alarm clock wakes up him at 6:45 on school days, but I know how restorative sleep can be, so I let him wake up naturally at about 7:30 on at-home days. If you have a child who could sleep all day, they may have to use an alarm clock every day, but consider testing a slightly later wake-up time or the same wake-up time with some “soaking” time for a slower morning. You know your child and how he reacts to those changes.
Then, consider the normal school-day things that have to be done to get ready for the day. Makeup the bed, getting a shower, brush teeth, get dressed, have breakfast, etc. For some reason, it’s hard to focus on virtual calls when you still have morning breath!
Next think of all of the non-school tasks that have to be done, such as chores and sports and write those down. Even if they vary each day, make a note of them.
Use acronyms to help your child remember the tasks.
We have BBBD in our house. It stands for eat Breakfast, make Bed, Brush teeth, and get Dressed. I don’t have to ask him anymore did he do each thing. I simply will ask (usually yelling from another room), “Did you BBBD?” If your acronym spells a funny word, even better!
Timing can get a little tricky because each day is different. I know that my son focuses better if he starts work as early as possible, but this doesn’t always happen. Oftentimes I have a work project that required my attention, and I cannot help with an assignment. He knows that he can skip to a different assignment or go to his chore chart to keep tackling tasks. So far, his workload has been reasonable each day, but if he ever needs a brain break, he’ll walk our dog or do something outside before getting back to work.
The idea isn’t to create the perfect day and give up entirely when it doesn’t go as planned. Instead, work with natural rhythms to create a routine that works with your family and allows everyone to get their daily tasks done.
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