When you try to fit everything into your child’s schedule during the school year – homework, chores, after-school activities, family time and free time – your child suddenly becomes a very busy little person! So how do you manage your child’s schedule so it doesn’t manage you?
The key is balance. A parent should encourage their child to try new things while holding them responsible for seeing them through, but be weary not to push too far. Teach your children (and perhaps more importantly yourself ) the basics and benefits of time management. Here are some guidelines for parents to teach their children how to make the best use of their time, especially when they have so many items to juggle on their agendas.
Homework is a priority
Homework should be a top priority during the school year, but some free time after school for children to have lunch and rest for a while to smoothen the transition between school and home is recommended. It is essential to get homework done early, preferably before night time when children get tired and irritable.
A designated homework area is also important. This area should have all the necessary tools needed – pencils, rulers, sharpeners etc. Having such an area teaches children to have an organized workspace.
The importance of after-school activities
After-school activities are an inevitable part of the school year, and experts agree that they very well should be. Involvement in after-school activities develops children’s social skills, discipline and strengthens their sense of responsibility and teamwork. They give children experience in setting and achieving their own goals.
When it comes to planning your children’s activities, help each child choose the activity he wants to involve in, and help him realize that he will be committed for the duration of this activity.
Using a calendar or planner is helpful in planning out the week on paper so that all the important tasks are clear. A large planner with the days of the week and times of the day is a creative idea. Use different colored markers for each child and place the planner in the kitchen or wherever is considered the center of the house.
Don’t sign up for everything
While after school activities are very important for children to discover themselves, many parents make the mistake of signing up their children for every possible activity in the hope of giving them an advantage, which usually results in their children being burnt out.
Generally speaking, just one extra curricular activity for a young child is recommended. Parents should follow the child’s lead as they get older and more capable of taking charge of their life, adding more activities as appropriate. By ages 11 – 13, three activities – one social, one artistic and one athletic – is a reasonable formula to go by.
Choose activities wisely
It’s important to be involved in activities and hobbies in a way that allows the rest of the child’s life to function. If the child’s grades, social relationships with both friends and family, or overall behavior are negatively affected then the cons have outweighed the pros.
Children should choose the activities they enjoy rather than be forced into the activities the parents want them to do. If the child cries when it’s time to leave for the activity because he’s exhausted, then something’s wrong. Also, enroll children in activities without expectations of certain achievements or outcomes. Many parents sign their children up for activities expecting a protégé by age 10. A child should be allowed to experiment with his interests without strings attached.
It is important to take into consideration the fact that every child is different. When it comes to the number and type of activities, parents should judge what is appropriate for each child individually.
Chores help children learn to take responsibility and foster a sense of teamwork among family members. Realistic expectations are the most critical element of chore designation. It is important not to set your child up for failure by demanding more than his abilities or time will allow. Teenagers, for example, are very busy with a social calendar and studying for important exams, so time for chores maybe more limited. It is fair to expect your teens to make their beds, tidy their rooms, set the table and clear their place after a meal.
Don’t plan every minute
As well as organized activities, children, especially younger ones, need open ended free time to explore, day dream and be close to family. Fantasy and independent free play that children often do when given their space, help them transform from concrete thinkers as children to abstract thinkers in their teenage years. Children should play, read, jump and have fun like kids can and always used to. Weekends should be a time to rest, daydream and recharge for the week ahead.
Spend a lot of family time!
The most important thing children want is time with you. Family time should be fun for everyone where parents and children enjoy fun conversations, activities and laughter. With each person’s busy schedule, keeping the family connected and making time for each other is not easy. Family time is often overlooked, despite the fact that it is more important than anything else. You do not always have to be teaching your child something, just make time to listen, such as at the dinner table.