I have a large family so after school is always our busiest and most chaotic time of the day. Everyone is happy to be out of school and home, but it’s always hard for them to settle down and settle into a routine of completing their homework. They always have a million reasons why they can’t start on homework right away or how there is so much more to be done before confining themselves to more schoolwork. So to control the inability to make good choices after school I’ve come up with a little system.
Now this system has worked for the last two weeks, so I can not speak on the long-term. I was just so excited about the calmness it created I had to share.
I created five “centers” (a term used in the classroom) to control the inability to make good choices. The way this works is, my children have ten minutes to come in and put away their belongings, use the bathroom, and choose a course of action. They can choose how to complete all five centers each day, but the goal is to complete all five centers before dinner. I will make my rounds to each center and I am always open for questions and help.
Center 1: The homework center. This area is used to complete homework assignments. Homework assignments consist of the work sent home from school and also worksheets I have printed out of areas they need to practice. For example multiplication facts. I will provide a worksheet that relates to this area of study for my child who may need extra practice with multiplying. The homework center is located in a quiet place of the house and pencils and paper are provided to eliminate “I can’t do my homework because I don’t have a pencil” or “Mom I need some paper, and I can’t find any.”
Center 2: The after school snack area. This center is located in the kitchen where snacks are put out for the kiddos to choose from. I try to have out healthy snacks and sometimes they catch me in a good mood and I might put something together I found on pinterest. This eliminates the 10 minutes of holding the refrigerator open trying to find a snack or the complaining about there is nothing to eat.
Center 3: This is the reading area. All teachers (well elementary school teachers) require students to read 20 minutes a night. Well, this center is located in a tent I decided to put in the family room. In the tent are books that they can choose from and I try to provide enough of a selection to include all reading levels. No two children are allowed in this area at the same time.
Center 4: This center may shock you, but some children just want to rest when they come home from school. I have cots from my days of being a home day care provider. I have these cots laid out with warm blankets and they can rest for 20 minutes. Currently it is the top center with the snack center in close second. I have also incorporated puzzles in this center.
Center 5: This is my favorite center, it’s the craft and chat center. In this center my children can sit and do a craft, color, paint, or whatever craft activity they want and chit-chat with me about their day. Our conversations are interesting and I cherish those moments when they are sharing with me, without me dragging information out of them.
Now these centers are obviously for the younger group, but I’m sure you can create some type of system in your household for the teens. Each center is 20+ minutes (homework may take longer) and all centers should be completed before dinner.