Welcome back to school! It is an exciting time of year for everyone–the kids are back in the classroom, teachers cannot wait to start their new school year, and if you will indulge me as a fellow parent, there is a collective sigh of relief for the structure that school provides.
If your house is anything like mine (I have 3 girls: 5th grade, 3rd grade, and 3 years old), our pace of life gets hectic really fast. Organizational systems go downhill by week 3. The shiny new school year wears off by the end of September and we are back to “Hurry up, we’re going to be late!” and “I don’t know where I put that field trip form that you were supposed to sign three days ago, but I have to have it for tomorrow!”
I’ve asked teachers, administrators, parents, and friends from around the country for helpful hints to make home time peaceful, productive (homework and chores), and the one thing that keeps coming back is focus on executive functioning strategies.
Through August/September, I will focus my Curriculum Corner on executive functioning, since that is the backbone for success for all of us. For some, this is a strength! For others, executive functioning is easy until you have ballet, soccer, hockey, scouts, homework, basketball, and (insert all the other activities here) to derail you from your magical organizational system.
Why is this important?
- Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember, and juggle multiple tasks.
How can this help me?
- Do you want to see your child(ren) become independent in completion of age-appropriate tasks in a reasonable amount of time?
- Do you want to see your child(ren)’s confidence grow with their independence?
- Do you have time to actually read the teachers' newsletters, figure out which forms you signed and thought you signed, but didn’t (I’m guilty too!), sign all the papers? And do you know where to find all these things because you have an organizational system that works?
- Are you able to provide your child(ren)feelings of success by providing a structure and routine around homework, chores, bedtime, etc that is manageable for them?
- Are you drowning in papers, wondering how on earth you are supposed to cherish every single one of them?
How do I make it happen?
- We have one for every night–I print it out by the week and it helps to focus our mornings and evenings. Plus, crossing things off feels SO GOOD!
- Timers/appropriate time limits for tasks
- Check out this timer, which highlights how much time they have left visually. We use these in school with high success!
- Planners (and how to use them)
- Explaining why you want them to try a particular way (and why they should expend that extra energy when they feel like “their way works just fine”)
- Using your child’s strengths to help with tasks
- Are they a visual learner that benefits from having graphic organizers at their fingertips?
- Would some motions help them retain more information?
- Do they need to talk it out or read a story pertaining to a social situation to have a better understanding of multiple perspectives?
- Can you come up with a mnemonic device to help remember the dry facts that we all just have to know?
- Have a homework routine with a place set up with all the materials they might need.
- Reward systems, whether that means stickers earned to be turned in for quality time with you, a night out with friends, or an allowance for completing tasks provides a bit more motivation than just “getting the work done.”
I hope this is helpful as you set up for the first week of homework and after school activities. I know we are recreating checklists and routines at my house as we speak!