“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”
– Psalm 37:23 ESV
Last week we looked at ways to make meaningful morning and afternoon routines for students. Routines help children with consistency and accountability. If one has ever started a New Year’s resolution and then stopped briefly, you know how hard it is to start it back up again. This week we will take a look at some routines that can be utilized in the classroom and at home to help with academics as well as helping children learn responsibility in the home and the classroom.
Increasing Academic Achievement
As a new semester begins, I plan to reintroduce many of our week 1 procedures and expectations throughout our school building. Our building has a great PBIS framework in which we help students to take ownership of our building. We have our own posters created, but here are some that could get you started. Often after a long break from school, students need to be reminded of what the expectations are in the different places in our building. This can be true for children at home as well. After the holidays, routines can go by the wayside as you are trying to be more flexible with all of the events you might have going on. According to an article about healthy family routines on HealthyChildren.org, once the children are back in school, establishing routines for you and your children will set everyone up for a great second semester. Here are some routines you can set up in our classroom and at home for you and your children to help improve study habits and increase academic achievement:
- Set up a designated place in the home for doing homework– Bouncing from place to place to complete schoolwork leaves many students looking for materials and spending more time getting ready to study than actually studying. Things you might want in your go-to spot would be a well-lit area, pencils, paper, desk or hard surface to write on and store supplies like a dry erase board with markers, and a nice comfortable chair for studying. You can buy many of these items at Wal-Mart or a local dollar store.
- Set up a specific time and stick to it- It does not matter what time you set for working out or for your child to study but keep it the same every night. Even if they do not have homework that night, they could still read for 20-30 mins at the designated time. A lot of students need a visual timer to help them keep track of their designated homework time. Some families like to have homework time right after school, while others have obligations after school and evenings before bed work best. If you know your child needs a break when they get home, give them a chance to burn off some energy before they come back to school work.
- Quality Control Check– Students and adults alike need reminding of what the expectations are for their work. When working with a child during independent work time or at home, have your student check in with you mid-way through their homework time. Take a look at what they have done so far, and give feedback on their quality of work. They do not want to hear at the end of their time that they have to redo something. Give them ample time to fix it and have them check back in with you at the end of their time. This will hold them accountable for a better product, which their future employers will appreciate!
Routines that Teach Responsibility
We all want our students and children to grow up and be responsible members of society. This is a learned skill and taking some time to teach children how to be responsible will pay off down the road for everyone. It is important that anytime we ask children to perform a task that we model how we want it done. I once asked my 4-year-old to put his dishes in the sink after dinner. As I was clearing the table, I watched him walk over to the sink and trash can and toss his plate (plastic), fork and cup (also plastic) into the air, food flying everywhere, as it landed into the sink. He did what I asked him to do, just not the way I envisioned it. Model what you are looking for and you will have more success with them reaching your target. Here are some routines that can help teach responsibility to kids in the classroom and at home:
- Classroom Jobs– This allows all children or even middle and high school students to take ownership in the classroom. This could be a simple as passing out papers, taking care of a class pet, or helping to organize events for the class or grade level. Check out these other possible classroom jobs for students.
- Classroom Mentors- Older students like middle and high school students could help out other students in the building. They could reach out to new students and help show them around, read to younger students, or be a buddy to someone with special needs. This helps teach responsibility and to put other’s needs ahead of their own.
- Chores at Home– Everyone who lives in the house should help out. Even the youngest children in the house could help dust, or put away some of their clothes. Remember to teach your children what you expect because it may not turn out the way you intended! Here are some chores that are broken down by age that you could have your children help you out with around the house. Don’t forget to give them praise for helping out! Here is a good article from the Center for Effective Parenting on how to set up chores at home.
- Consequences- Talk to your child or student about consequences. These are both positive and negative outcomes that come from their choices about being responsible at school and around the house. We have to make ourselves available to talk with them and be consistent with your kids. They will be more likely to follow through the next time.
After researching many of these topics, it can be overwhelming to try all of these tips and approaches at one time. For me personally, I will work on one or two of them and get a solid foundation on those before I move on to other routines. You want to have meaningful routines for your students and children rather than too many that you cannot remember. Whatever you choose, make sure you can stick with it. May you have good health and God’s blessings in this new year!