I’m peering out the window waiting for the bus to arrive and drop off my first grader.
It pulls up and I watch him climb down the bus stairs and run up to the front door. I greet him at the door, he moves past me and dumps his back pack on the ground then proceeds to shake off his jacket, kick off his boots and move into the living room.
I stand there, looking at the remains of what seems like a hurricane that just blew through.
He’s in the kitchen complaining that he’s hungry and I gently remind him that he needs to pick up and put away everything he just unloaded in the foyer. He does that, then returns for a snack. I remind him to wash his hands first then unload his back pack.
My mind is racing with what needs to get done in the next hour...helping him with homework, getting dinner ready…and he’s asking if he can go play outside. I remind him he has homework to do.
He complains that he doesn’t want to do it, and I’m tired from the day so I have minimal patience left. We both end up frustrated and sitting down at the table to conquer the homework.
But I’m thinking there has to be an easier way to tackle the after school hours without both of us becoming irritated…we need a routine!
Why After School Routine’s Are Important
When you have a part of your day that seems out of control and chaotic, kinda like the after school hours did for me, it helps to create a routine.
Routines help to eliminate chaos in the following ways:
- creates more productivity while using less brain power
- incorporate good habits so they stick
- gives you a sense of control
- eliminates resistance and push-back from kids
- ensures important tasks are completed
I realized that I could cut down on my nagging, and help my son build good habits around his responsibilities after school if I created and implemented an after school routine.
How to Get Started with an After School Routine
In a minute, I’m going to walk you through the after school routine I use with my 7 year old.
If you want to create an after school routine for your family, decide on what you want to accomplish in that time. Then the next step would be to decide in what order you want to perform those tasks.
In our house, we prioritize homework and play after school. There are a few other things that need to happen within the routine. These tasks teach responsibility and good habits. For example, my son is responsible for emptying out his back pack, hanging up his jacket, and washing his hands. These items go into the after school routine.
Check out The Beginners Guide to Family Routines for more details on how to get started with an after school routine.
To make this routine even easier, I created an After School Routine Checklist for my son. This After School Routine Checklist helps him create good habits, and build independence, while assuring he gets his important tasks done.
Our Typical After School Routine
This is our typical after school routine for my first grader. I also have a 4 year old at home who goes to preschool in the morning. You can check out his after school routine here.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Around 15 minutes before my son gets off the bus, I pick up a little around the house.
Specifically, I make sure the kitchen table is cleared off so there is room for snack and homework. Then I make myself a little treat – decaf coffee with cream. Random, I know, but I enjoy having something to sip on while going through homework with my son.
Home From School
Once my son arrives home from school, he has a few things he needs to take care of:
- put away his jacket and shoes
- empty his backpack and lunch box
- wash his hands
He can get easily distracted at this point, so I use the checklist to keep him on task so he gets his homework done and he can play.
After he completes the tasks above, he can have a snack. We have a rule about snack – he has to have something healthy, like a piece of fruit, before he can have an item from our snack basket.
He has his snack while we talk about his day.
Go Through School Papers
There’s no shortage of paper coming home from school. After my son unloads his backpack, he places his folder on the kitchen counter. I immediately take out all the papers and sort them into three piles:
- worksheets and random stuff that can be recycled
- homework and assignments
- art projects, class papers that I will follow up on
Going through his folder on a daily basis avoids a pile-up of paper on the kitchen counter and keeps the clutter down.
He has a daily assignment of reading for 15 minutes. And some days he has additional homework like a worksheet, or memorizing words or math facts. I sit with him while he goes through his homework. I’m careful to just be a presence and not give him too much assistance.
There are some days when he decides on his own to do his homework before school. I prefer this because he is more focused and motivated. But I allow him to make that choice every day.
Once homework is complete, he can play. Usually he has about an hour or so before we eat dinner. I encourage him to play, but some days, he does watch TV or hang out on his tablet.
Dinner Preparation/Unfinished Cleaning Tasks
I make dinner at this point. I try to do a little prepping before hand so I don’t have as much work to do. At this time of day, the least amount of time I have to spend in the kitchen, the better.
If my husband makes dinner, I will put away laundry, or vacuum. I take care of any task that I was hoping to complete, but didn’t get done.
Tips for Success With Your After School Routine
Depending on how much homework your child receives, and activities your child is in, after school time could feel rushed and overwhelming. Here are some tips to help your family thrive after school:
Tip #1: Use the After School Routine Checklist to help your child focus and build good habits after school. You can grab the checklist here.
Tip #2: Prepare a snack ahead of time. If you’re rushing out of the house after school to attend activities, get the snack ready before your kids come home. One less thing you have to spend time doing after school.
Tip #3: Use clipboards to do homework in the car. Use the commuting time to and from activities as homework time for your child. They can read, or use the clipboard to assist with any writing they need to do.
Tip #4: Have a designated spot for backpacks, and anything else that goes to school with your child each day. This will make your mornings so much easier.
Tip #5: Have a designated spot for school papers. Go through school papers immediately, and have a location for the ones you need to keep or follow-up with.
Tip #6: Give your child time to play or just relax. After being in school all day, the kids need some time to unwind without structure or rules (within reason). Encourage them to get that energy out that was kept under wrap all day.
After School Routine Ideas
Here are some different After School Routines:
- After School Routine!
- After School Routine | Homework, Chores + Games
- 7 After-School Routine Ideas That Experts + Parents Swear By
What Does Your After School Routine Look Like
I’m so glad our family figured out an after school routine that works for us. Our routine guarantees homework is done, important papers are attended to, and play time is supported. And though not every day is easy-breezy after school, most days run smoothly.
What do you find challenging for your family after school? If you have an after school routine, what does it look like? Will you be adding or taking away from your after school routine? Please let me know in the comments below!
And don’t forget to grab your After School Routine Checklist for your child. Get it here.