Life with kids can be chaotic. There is a reason schools follow a routine schedule. But routines shouldn’t stop when your child leaves school. Establishing an after-school routine for your children will make your afternoon easier. How you structure your child’s after-school routine can also have a major impact on their overall health. Here is what you need to know about creating a healthy after school routine for your child:
Why An After School Routine Is Important For Children?
Your child has spent an entire day in a highly structured environment while at school. When they arrive home in the afternoon, they are probably hungry, loaded with homework, and ready to relax. If your kids come running through the door and throw their bookbags on the floor, it may put you in a cranky mood. Establishing a consistent after-school routine helps your child know what to expect when they get home, improves overall behavior, and makes your afternoon a little less chaotic.
Tips For Creating A Healthy After School Routine
After-school routines are as unique as the individual needs of you and your children. While most after-school routines will include the same basic essentials, the order in which you choose to do these steps will vary based on the needs and preferences of you and your child. For example, some children may prefer play before completing their homework while others will prefer to get homework out of the way first. Here are a few basic essentials you should include in your after school routine:
Almost every after-school routine starts off with the bookbag and lunch boxes. When your children walk through the door, they should have a designated space to hang their book bags and to place their lunch boxes. This will help make the start of the after-school routine less chaotic for you. Some parents prefer to unpack book bags and to sort through school papers immediately, while others wait to do this step after snack.
Children are often hungry when they arrive home from school. They also are probably very excited to tell you about their day. Snack time is a great time for you to sit down with your child and discuss their day. Try to choose healthy snacks such as low-fat yogurt, fruit, whole grain crackers, string cheese, or veggies and dip. Healthy snacks will give them the energy they need for their remaining after school activities.
Exercise / Play
Physical activity is important to the health of our body and our brain. Being active increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain. This improves our focus and concentration. Many children find it beneficial to have a period of play or exercise time before they sit back down to do homework. The key here is for your children to be active, not just playing video games or watching tv. Encourage activities like outside play, riding bikes, walking the dog, or playing sports.
Your child’s after-school routine will likely involve homework at some point. You may need to experiment to find the time that your child is most productive at completing homework. It is important for your children to have quiet spaces established specifically for them to do their work and study. You should also be available to answer questions or help your child during this time. You should keep all electronics off until they finish their homework unless they need it to complete assignments.
Once you have completed all your other after-school activities, it is important to have a period of wind-down time before bed. Your bedtime routine should begin with a period of relaxation. This may include spending time together as a family, reading, or watching a short television show. However, it is important for children to have at least an hour of screen-free time prior to bed. So if part of their “wind-down” time involves electronics such as the tv or computer, make sure this period begins early enough to allow screen-free time. The rest of your bedtime routine will include things such as having dinner, taking a bath or shower, and preparing for the next day. Make sure your children are getting to sleep early enough to get the amount of sleep they need to be healthy and successful.
Some children attend an after-school program such as HOST. These after-school programs will usually address steps like snacks and homework. If your child attends an after-school program, adjust your after-school routine at home accordingly.
Discuss Your Child’s Unique Needs With Their Pediatrician
Your child’s pediatrician is concerned about caring for their whole health. If you have concerns about any area of your child’s after-school routine, discuss these needs with your child’s pediatrician. Contact Children’s Medical Center and make your child’s next annual well-child appointment with their board-certified pediatrician today. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week!