Written by: Emma Ballantyne, Senior Behaviour Therapist and Early Intervention Consultant
Are you still feeling like it is hard getting on top of the school routines now that Term 1 is underway? Here are our Top 5 suggestions for ways get back on track:
1. Plan ahead. Work out what needs to be done, what’s on for your child and make a plan. Consider creating a calendar or weekly schedule that helps to remind everyone about what’s on and what your child needs to take each day, e.g. library books due date and school sport days.
2. A good day starts with a good night’s sleep. It’s not uncommon for parents to allow their children to stay up later during the school holidays. To ensure that your child gets up in time for school, it is important to re-adjust your child’s sleeping patterns prior to the school term starting. Start by adjusting your child’s sleep pattern in small half hour blocks. For example, if your child is going to bed an hour later than they need too, then 10 days out from school start adjusting their bed time back by half an hour every couple of days, so that they’re back into the school sleep routine prior to school starting. If you didn’t do this before school began, then you can start now in these early weeks of term.
3. Morning routines are vital! Establishing consistent and persistent morning routines not only provides the opportunity for your child to develop self-care and independent living skills (e.g., dressing themselves) but also makes the morning run smoother. Consistent morning routines create predictable expectations for your child, which provides the opportunity for them to develop their independence skills and in turn their confidence.
The Australian Raising Children’s website (http://raisingchildren.net.au) offers additional information and tips on establishing morning routines for school.
4. After School routines are also important. Additionally, it is important to create an after school routine that suits your family’s needs and situation. As always, consistency is key to any effective routine. So find out what suits you and your family and stick with it. For example, is it better for your family that you have a family meal together after homework is completed? Does your child need some “down time” before bath/shower?
5. Visuals are everyone’s best friend! Creating visual routines can help to reduce stress and assist in creating smooth morning and afternoon schedules allowing people to remain calmer and households to run smoothly. Using a visual routine will allow you to refer your child back to the visual schedule to check for themselves what comes next in the morning or afternoon schedule and carry out that activity. Again this is a great skill to build their independence and self-confidence. You can find great images online, then just print and paste them into a picture schedule.