Getting into a Good After-school Routine

Getting into a Good After-school Routine

Establish a schedule and say goodbye to after-school mayhem.

By: Malina Saval

Make a Friendly Schedule
When school lets out for the day, the home can become the scene of uncontrolled chaos. But a friendly schedule that works for everyone should produce some peaceful after-school downtime. Finding the right balance between a free-for-all and a strict regimen can be tricky. With these pointers, afternoons will quickly become the highlight of everyone's day, yours included.

Prepare for Bumps
Structure is the antidote for disorder, so pay attention to your child's moods and what may cause them to unravel. Keep those markers in mind when nailing down a daily routine. "The beginning of the new school year is a perfect opportunity to establish a new, structured after-school routine," says Amy Taylor, a psychologist and parent educator based in Los Angeles.

Allow for Time Outdoors
Free play – especially outside with peers – is an essential part of children's development, as it helps them develop their imaginations as well as social skills. "If you’re outdoors with make-believe games, two things happen ... you’ve got imagination working and you’ve got kids working out social relationships. And there’s a whole set of executive skills that go along with that," says Dawson, staff psychologist at the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and co-author of the book “Smart but Scattered.”

Create a Good Environment
Because home provides cues for free time and relaxation rather than schoolwork, it can be difficult for some kids, particularly those with attention issues, to focus on homework once they've left school, says Dawson. If you find your child has a hard time getting work done at home, consider sending him to an after-school homework club, where the school-work cues will help him gear up to finish his assignments.


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Provide Healthy Snacks
Kids typically come home from school famished, as if they haven't eaten in days. Keep in mind that it may have only been a couple of hours, but the little critters get hungry. Keep an assortment of healthy snacks within easy reach (on a refrigerator shelf, in the pantry or on a kid-sized table). While they satisfy their hunger, you can plan dinner or join them for an after-school chat.

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