Setting a Routine During Distance Learning
By Claudia Rios-Gastelum, LMFT #97284
More than ever, you and your children will find benefits from setting routines for before and after school activities. Most likely, your child will have a schedule of what their school day looks like. If they don’t, reach out to their teacher(s) and request a copy of their schedule. Use the schedule as your starting point to identify how to help them transition to their learning mode and at the end of the day transition to home mode. Transitions tend to be hard for children as they often require us to leave some enjoyable activity and shift gears to a not as pleasant task. Routines help children get oriented for the day, give them a sense of security and allow them to develop life skills such as independence, prioritizing goals and persistence.
To start, invite your child to help you identify all the tasks they have to complete in the day and list them on a piece of paper. Getting their buy-in from the beginning is very important as it will increase motivation and follow through. Then arrange the order of the tasks that need to be completed. The younger your child is the more important the order rather than the time frame allotted for each task. If your child needs to have keep track of time, focus on the start time or end time of their routine rather than designating time frames for each individual task.
Once the specific routine are identified and the order is set, create simple visuals to help your little ones learn to identify the tasks. I love inviting kids to help me create these visuals as they feel so proud of the art that they create. These visuals are also a great way of reducing how many commands we give children as we can walk to the image and point rather than yell or sound like a broken record.
Consistency is the last tool to help implement a routine and this is where most parents have a hard time. In the beginning, your child depends on you to follow through with this routine. Once you are consistent with the routine, you will quickly see how your children will share this responsibility. Sometimes, your children might be the ones who remind you to follow the routine. If routines are hard for you to keep, use your own tools such as setting up a timer or alarms.
Remember, don’t give up if it takes some time to develop this skill.