As a teacher, I know that when I have all my materials ready, have thought through (and written via lesson plans) the procedures I will ask my students to complete, and then thought about all of the possible ways these delightful children will try to take my plan and turn it into mayhem, I am at my absolute best.
The same is true for me as a parent, but somehow it is harder in this role than it is professionally. However, my ability to know what is going on, check in on grades, and communicate with my children’s teachers IS the preparation work that sets stage for executive functioning success–how does my child know what to do if I have no idea what is going on?
My family has tried multiple strategies, but have found that adding everything to a color-coded calendar has been the most successful. Everyone has a color. The STM School calendar has been added to my phone in RED. Any of my events, personal or professional, are in YELLOW. My husband’s events (personal or professional) are in BLUE. My kids each picked their favorite colors: teal, purple, and pink. Each of their events is in that color, including Scouts, sports, school events, etc. This allows us to quickly look and see who needs to be where, pack what they need the night before, know what each person is doing, and then figure out how to bi-locate to get everyone where they need to be.
Things that we also add (appropriately color-coded to the person responsible for the task):
- A reminder to check Wednesday Folders so that we can review grades, papers, and see if we need to focus on a particular area with one of the kids this week:
- Was math a challenge and should I do math HW with the kids instead of just check it?
- Did we totally bomb the religion quiz and maybe I should review it at home to make sure we are ready for the next portion?
- A reminder to check email for the STM Blast on Wednesday evening (it goes out at 6pm!)
- A reminder to check email for the PTO Blast on Friday evenings
- A reminder to check my oldest’s Powerschool each Monday to see what grades are posted. (Gentle reminder that this is only available for Grades 4-8; the Powerschool grade portion will be closed for PK-3 on Sept. 30 due to developmental grading scales that do not adequately show student progress.)
This seems like a lot, but realistically, life moves fast. When I don’t have that prompt, I may miss something (like the author visit, a missing assignment, etc.). As a parent, I know that I am my child’s first educator. If my brain can’t keep up with everything, how can I expect theirs to? It is not nearly as developed as mine!
I hope that some of these strategies may help your family. While they don’t seem particularly connected to one subject in the curriculum, executive functioning (being able to keep up with all the things) is really at the root of a successful child AND adult.
Do you have a strategy that works for your family? Tell me about it! We can always learn from each other–that is what makes the STM community so strong.