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School Routine: Step By Step Guide for Helping Kids Fall Back Into It

You know how it goes. It’s summer, so you let your kids unwind. They live a carefree life going to bed later than usual, getting up later than school would ever allow them, and playing far more than they usually have time for.

But then, before you know it, it’s September, and those same kids need to fall back into the routine of getting up at a certain time, spending hours sitting still, coming home to do homework, and going to bed at a decent hour so they can get enough rest for the next day.

Should be simple, right?

But you and I both know things don’t just click back so easily. It takes time, and it can turn into a frustrating few weeks unless you approach it the right way – as a family.

3 Steps To Re-Establish School Routine

Step 1: Scroller, Interrupted – Instilling More Awareness About Screen Time

During summer (especially if you have teenagers!), everything is so instagrammable, isn’t it? The sunsets, the beach, the endless sleepovers with their clique… But now that there are classes to attend and homework to do, the habit of hanging around on social media needs to take a step back.

You probably know this is all true, but you’re also thinking – Yikes! How in the world am I going to limit them without provoking an angry reaction?

Chances are, you’re not – and that’s okay. They’ll need some time to adjust, but as long as you approach it the right way and explain why you’re doing it, all will be well.

Start by pointing out that you’re not trying to punish them – it’s merely a precaution. It’s not that you don’t trust their abilities, either, but you know how addictive scrolling can get, and you want to make a pact – together. When they’re studying, their phone will be away from them so they don’t get tempted. If your kid is more independent, you can even agree on a number, say – one hour of social media a day, and they get to choose how they’ll spend that time and when.

Just make sure you’re following your own advice –  hence the TOGETHER part! If they see you glued to your phone while you’re trying to limit them, they’re far less likely to be following your advice – or forgiving you for inflicting such horrendous rules on them!

Step 2: Early to Bed, Early to Rise…

… Makes a kid still slightly tired, but far more likely to have enough time to finish everything in the morning! This should be a set part of your children’s routine, too – and the best way to decide their bedtime is to figure out when they get up and how much sleep they need. For younger kids, it should be between 10 and 11 hours, while teenagers can get away with 8.

It’s also important to make sure they’re not using their phone/laptop right before bed. If they are, chances are they’ll find it much more difficult to fall asleep.

Speaking of falling asleep, the easiest way to do that is to have a fixed pre-bed routine. It can be – read one chapter of a book they like, brush their teeth, get into their pajamas, or anything else they do regularly (that doesn’t consist of screens!). Make sure you also have your own routine. Don’t let them catch you sitting in the living room in your pajamas, scrolling through Halloween treat ideas. As with anything kid-related, parents should serve as role models, rather than an evil Skeletor, hating them and imposing rules all the time!

Mornings are an important part of your overall family routine, too – and the screen rule should be applied then, as well. Delaying screen time as much as possible in the morning and even using an actual alarm clock instead of the one on the phone can make the process of waking up much easier!

However, your mornings don’t have to all be exactly the same – they can be tweaked a bit. For example, take turns. You can make breakfast on Mondays, your significant other on Tuesdays, your older kid on Wednesdays… Breakfast is a great way to instill some sense of autonomy in children.  Give them freedom, try not to be too harsh with the feedback, and watch them grow!

And here’s a difficult thing to ask of them – no snoozing!! They should be getting up at the same time every day, doing the same things – get dressed, brush teeth, have breakfast (or the other way around – we’re all different!), maybe even walk or feed the dog if that’s their responsibility. If they move their getting-up time, the rest of the routine is at risk.  They’ll rush everything, yell “I don’t have time for breakfast, love you, mom!” and then be straight out the door, leaving your routine hanging by a thread.

Step 3: Homework – The Final Frontier

That’s your final challenge right there! The rest they were already doing – although not timely – even before school. But now that homework’s here, you’re bound to be hearing the usual. 

“I’ll do it before bed.”

“I’ll be at John’s after school. I’ll do it when I get back!”

“Mom, that’s for Friday – it’s only Tuesday!”

Now, raise your hand if you’ve ever heard any version of these. Of course you have – who would rather be dealing with calculus instead of going to the movies with friends?!

Difficult as it may be for them, they should be putting homework first – that will serve them much more than they can understand… So help them understand.

Let them know that’s the way they’re building a work ethic; they’ll be avoiding the anxiety that comes with procrastination; finally, they won’t have H O M E W O R K hanging over their heads wherever they go, whatever they do. No guilt, no worries, only responsibility and freedom (who knew the two complemented each other so well?)

 

But we have to say yet again – you are their biggest role model. If you’re avoiding going to the doctor’s or cleaning the house, they’ll see you as a hypocrite for that whole homework story. So, be an example, set some limits, and watch everything fall into place.

Why does it matter anyway?

Routine isn’t just important for your kid’s grades. It helps them develop their executive function – the brain’s CEO that knows how to prioritize, solve problems, think critically … All of which are hugely important for their future.

Our bonus advice is: don’t let vacation ruin their sense of routine and responsibility completely. This isn’t to say they can’t ever rest or have some free time! – but some structure is always good. That way, not only will they not fall behind once school starts, but they’ll develop great time-management skills, something they could really use in the future.

 

DOWNLOAD OUR FREE WORK-PLAY CALENDAR TO GET INSPIRED

 

 

Sources:

https://source.colostate.edu/back-to-school-tips-for-helping-children-return-to-the-routine/

https://psychcentral.com/lib/back-to-school-back-to-routines/

https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/holiday-seasonal-family/back-to-school-tips/#gs.0nly9v

https://www.bustle.com/articles/107991-18-back-to-school-memes-that-tell-it-how-it-is-even-if-thats-not-how-you-want

https://www.buzzfeed.com/mccarricksean/most-inspiring-skeletor-quotes

http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/35xb8r

 

 

Going Back to School: How to Overcome Procrastination

Ah, January… The month of getting back to reality. The holidays are over and everyone’s back to their regular routine of working and going to school. But now that the kids are used to sleeping in and getting some well deserved rest, procrastination may be an issue when it comes to getting up early for school and studying. So how can you help them find their motivation and get back to hustling? We have some ideas for you!

Procrastination: Laziness or Something Else?

The first question we should answer is: what is procrastination? For children who tend to procrastinate, it’s an ongoing habit that doesn’t depend on the time of year, a.k.a. chronic procrastination. However, it can become more apparent and troubling if they’ve just returned from vacation and are suddenly expected to be doing a million school assignments at once. Why is that? Are they just lazy?

Well, if you came across this article when you were searching for topics like “how to overcome laziness”, we have some (good) news: procrastination usually doesn’t stem from children being lazy. Although the definition of procrastination is “avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished” [1], that avoidance is usually the result of fear of failure. You can’t fail at something you never attempt in the first place, right? And the chance of failing is much greater if you’ve been on break for days or even weeks and are now suddenly required to be finishing task after task.

Another cause of procrastination may be perfectionism. People who want to do things perfectly never feel quite ready to start doing them – they feel they could always be a bit more prepared. Combine that with not studying for a while and voilà – you’ve got yourself a perfectionist who’s afraid of failure and thus – procrastinating.

It All Comes Down to Habits

This whole thing may sound scary, but there’s good news, too. It’s all about reversing bad habits. Although fear of failure and perfectionism are not habits per se – they’re emotional struggles – they’re difficult for children to overcome because they’re being reinforced. Every time the child feels stressed out, they choose to close up their books and whisper those magic words, “I’ll do it later – I have enough time”. This brings instant relief, which makes it easier for them to do the same thing over and over, just to calm their fear and anxiety. Though it might work for a while, time soon starts running out. So what can they do instead – and how can you help them?

They can choose to stay in that stressful situation, or challenge themselves, and become stronger. It’s like exercise, really – you try to do one push-up for the first time, and it’s so difficult! You keep going, and eventually you can do two, three, five, until the moment you find everything less than twenty to be a piece of cake.

But children shouldn’t be forced into it – instead, they need to develop certain skills and understanding of their issues before being able to confidently work on them. What you as a parent can do here is learn what makes your child fall behind at times and work on that with them.


If you want to know more about how to help your child deal with different issues and help them become more independent, check out our upcoming Online Classes for Parents.

These classes are perfect for you if you want to:

  • Improve Your Child’s Executive Function
  • Help Them Build Great Homework Habits
  • Help Them Manage Their Screen Time

Get a FREE Access to the Syllabus of Online Class “Improve Your Child’s Executive Function”:


What Are Some Other Reasons for Falling Behind?

Parents often come to us, especially at this time of year, with: “I don’t feel my child is keeping up with their classmates. What can I do to help?”

So, what happened? Your child did their best to keep up before the holidays, but now that they’ve gotten some rest, it’s become harder for them to get back into the study-hard mode. What can you do to help them become better at handling school assignments? How can you aid their productivity?

One of the ways you can help them is by providing them with motivation. A more comprehensive list of ways to do that can be found in one of our previous articles, but it all comes down to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is the one that lies inward. When the child is self-motivated, results tend to be better and the child is happier to tackle the necessary work. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, means you’re providing rewards for them – the motivation lies outside of them. This isn’t a bad thing – in fact, it’s a good way to start developing intrinsic motivation – but intrinsic motivation should be the main goal.

What Can I Do?

For example, you can start motivating them by offering to make their favorite meal if they study for two hours every day that week. Make sure to praise the effort they’re putting into studying, rather than the result. For one thing, the effort will usually lead to good results; and it will all happen without the stress they’re feeling if they need to strive for the result. The “you must get an A” might cause test anxiety and further exacerbate their perfectionistic issues, which will have precisely the opposite effect from the desired one.

Once they start seeing their efforts rewarded, they’re in a much better position to begin developing intrinsic motivation. In fact, one of the best ways to ease your child’s transition to school during the post-holiday period is to make studying creative and fun – and making their favorite meal together once they’ve studied enough is a good start [2].

One more thing to pay attention to is the amount of time they spend using technology. They may have had a lot of time to browse through social media or YouTube while on vacation, but that amount should be lower now that they’re back at school [3].


If any of this sounds familiar to you, schedule a free consultation with one of our Coaches and talk to them – together with your child – about their struggles and steps for overcoming them.


In Conclusion…

Procrastination is a normal occurrence after the holidays. Just remember how difficult it is for you during those first few working days in January. Now, imagine if you had to go home and do homework and study on top of that! A lot of children tend to also be fearful of any sort of failure, or even be perfectionists when it comes to school. All of that can lead to avoiding school tasks, which can often be mistaken for laziness.

The best thing you can do is to motivate them by rewarding their efforts. This will teach them both that effort really matters, and that they don’t need to be perfect, as long as they keep trying. Eventually, they may develop their own inner motivation for studying – and you’ll be happy to see that it’s bringing in good results, without your needing to reward them for it anymore.

References:

  1. https://nobelcoaching.com/procrastination-teens-can-help/
  2. https://www.verywellfamily.com/solutions-for-back-to-school-problems-4081699
  3. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/10-common-back-to-school-strugglesand-how-to-deal_b_5b896a6ae4b0f023e4a60479

Back to School: How to Be Prepared

It’s that time of year already! Whether you’re ready or not, summer break is over and school has started. Since going back to school is often a bit scary, we want to help prepare you to crush this school year!

How to prepare for going back to school?

So, how can you ready yourself mentally and physically for a new, successful school year?

Get enough sleep.

Sometimes we underestimate the value of sleep but sleep has effects on performance. It involves a range of complex functions associated with memory, the ability to learn, brain development, immune functioning, etc. So try to sleep at least eight to nine hours every night. While this might not always be realistic, do try to respect your sleep schedule!

Prepare everything you need the day before.

Pack your bag and choose your clothes the day before, so you don’t have to worry about it next morning and won’t have to rush. You’ll have time to think about the things you want to do that day, have breakfast, and get ready on time.

Be there 15 minutes early.

And while we’re talking about time… Don’t be late! It’s an annoying habit and you know that. The best way not to be late is to get to school 15 minutes early every day.

Study routine.

Establish your studying/homework routine. This will help you concentrate, memorize, and recall information faster and more effectively.

Be organized.

Write down all your due dates on a calendar template and review it daily as a study guide. Make a plan for how you’ll achieve everything you want to and stick to it. This helps with focusing time and energy on tasks you need to complete, and you can track your progress and make adjustments as necessary.

Planner and a yellow marker pen

It’s okay to be afraid

Have you had negative thoughts – for example, of having a test you didn’t study for that are coming back all over again? Do you have trouble falling asleep or you’re waking up frequently during the night? What about nightmares? Maybe you have none of these symptoms, but you still feel school-related nervousness.  However, there are ways to beat it!

Remember you’re not alone.

Many students feel that way and have the same worries that you do. It’s not unusual to experience some anxiety facing the new school year, even more so if you’re moving up to middle school, high school, or college. These “big changes”can be really difficult, but certainly manageable.

Don’t forget to breathe.

If you feel very anxious and don’t know what to do or how to stop it, just breathe. Try to find a place where you can be alone, close your eyes, and breathe slowly. Here’s a good exercise that is called 4 7 8 breathing:

  1. For 4 seconds inhale silently through your nose.
  2. Then, count to seven as you hold your breath.
  3. Next, exhale completely through your mouth for eight seconds.

You can also use this exercise if you have trouble falling asleep.

Talk about it.

Sometimes the best way to face a fear is to say it out loud. So if you have any fear, or you feel nervous, anxious, and/or sad, share it. Share your feelings and your fears with someone you’re close to. For example, a friend is a good choice – they might be feeling the same way and you can talk it through together.

However, if you have trouble adapting to school for more than the first week or two and it’s affecting your everyday life, talk with your family and friends and consider asking for help.

School is cool

Even though you’re a bit nervous and a little bit fearful facing a new school year, you can also look forward to some great new experiences. These are a few reasons why School is Cool.

  1.      New people.

The new school year is a good chance to meet new people! Why is that so good? Those people may become your friends (or a crush, right?).

  1.      Friends.

Seeing classmates after a few months is great, isn’t it? You can finally hug them and talk about how you spent your summer break and what’s new. Friends are also a great support that all of us need from time to time. Even if you experience some anxiety in social situations, you now have a fresh chance to make connections and to work on maintaining a sense of calm while joining in new experiences.

  1.      New, interesting things to learn.

There’s plenty of new things to learn and you may be surprised by what you’ll find to interest you! Also, there’s a wide variety of opportunities available for you at school which may be beneficial in your future career. Leadership in a student organization is a good example of that.

  1.      Extracurricular activities.

Have you already found your favorite one? If you did, congratulations! Keep doing a great job! However, if you didn’t, here’s a chance to try different extracurricular activities and find out what you like and what your passion is. There are many benefits to joining a choir or a basketball team. Also, you can meet new people and learn many interesting things there!