Little Leaps Group Therapy transitioning to year-round school: What you should know
March 28, 2017
Keeping Those School Year Routines In Check
September 4, 2015
Believe it or not….it’s that time again. Summer is over, school is back in session, and you may be wondering how your household craziness just multiplied by 100. In general, routine is hard to establish and even harder to keep intact. In addition, many of you may have a child that heavily relies on that routine and with one little slip up, the day is over before it started. A couple of months ago, we posted a blog about evening routine. To take that even further, we have revamped it and added morning as well. Hopefully these helpful hints will smooth things out from the time those little feet hit the floor, until they crawl back into bed.
Try and get into the habit of preparing things the night before (i.e. clothes laid out, lunches packed and ready to grab, backpacks near the door). Yes it is much easier said than done, but also a big help!
Packing lunches and making sure that everyone has what they need/want, can be a tedious job. If possible, cut up veggies and fruits, and divide them out at the beginning of the week. Sometimes sandwiches and other things can be done ahead of time too. Give the kids some independence and have them help make their own lunches. Make a chart so they know what needs to be included (i.e. 1 sandwich, 2 veggies, 2 fruits, etc.). Have them pack up their own lunches in the morning.
Visuals are key for any time of the day or any situation/routine that’s a little rough around the edges. Make pictures for each thing that needs to be completed in the morning, and put them on a chart or schedule (get dressed, brush teeth, breakfast, pack lunch, etc.). There are a million and one ways to make these. Use Velcro or a magnetic board to hang them, and your child can remove them as they do them, putting them into a separate container or envelope. You could also just have a check off (for those that can write). For younger kiddos, it’s easier to have pictures of the actual task that needs completed. But for older ones who can read, words will do just fine. You may also be able to use a dry erase board, that way if the schedule changes, you are prepared.
That being said, we mentioned above that you may have a child who relies heavily on routine. This schedule alone can make a world of difference. If school gets cancelled, if you have an extra appointment, you are eating dinner out, or whatever changes life throws at you, the visual schedule can prepare them for the day ahead and not overwhelm them as little things can.
For kiddos who may be overactive or have some sensory deficits to work through, TRY and add a few minutes of a stimulating activity in the morning. Again, easier said than done. But 5 minutes of letting them jump on the trampoline, play in a bean/rice box, or swing, may help calm them down and set them on the right track for the day.
Again, visuals are key. Put up a schedule of the afternoons events, practices, homework, chores, tv time, outside time, etc. That way, as soon as they walk in the door they know what is expected of them.
Visual schedules are often popular for the bedtime routine. As with any of the others we mentioned, the pictures should be simple, clear, and easy for your child to see. Helping kids follow a routine typically gives them a sense of calm about "what will happen next." An issue we see frequently is that most of our kids have difficulty with grasping time, and will often have anxiety and behaviors when transitioning to new activities. Many of them are visual learners, and the pictures and words help solidify a connection to the necessary activity.
Chores! We dedicated an entire post to chores and simple tasks for kids of all ages to do. Here is the perfect opportunity to implement them! Add them on the “to do” list and hopefully they’ll be completed without too much complaining (especially if there are earnings involved!).
Timers are another tool that can be implemented in both morning and evening. Setting the timer for 30 minutes of tv time, 10 minutes till bedtime, etc., can be easy signals that it is time to move on. Once adjusted to that routine, their compliance will more than likely increase.
Choose simple dinners that the kids can help with (and in turn help you as well ☺). There is an abundance of children’s cookbooks or “ 5 ingredient or less recipes” that may be perfect in your household. Get them involved and yourself out. Although, it is possible they could make more of a mess!
If you are out of ideas (and have the time!) and need things to do in the evening, get creative and throw in some fun stuff. Remember, they’ve probably been sitting the majority of the day, so keep it engaging.
Go to a sporting event
Go on a walk/treasure hunt outdoors
Go to the library
Work on fine motor skills such as stringing beads, pasta, or cheerios, writing letters to friends/family, scooping cotton balls or water gems from bowl to bowl, practice with scissors.
Continue to work on academics but find different and fun ways to teach it. Dollar stores and sections usually have fun character flashcards and books to use.
Practice with personal information. Write it in shaving cream on a table (or cookie sheet), match the letters and numbers with stickers or foam, make up songs that are easy to remember.
Whether the above strategies are needed in your home or not, there is a plethora of simple and easy DIY activities that you can do with your child to help make them successful in their learning. From functional to academic skills, teachers and therapists can help pick out the types of activities that will benefit your child based on their needs. We picked just a few activities based on the most common needs that we get asked about from parents. The internet is often a wonderful place to find appropriate activities for your family!