Adapting to the new reality of at-home education and work can be difficult for the whole family. Children may have an especially difficult time adjusting to new changes. If your child has trouble following a regular schedule or has meltdowns when asked to switch from one activity to another, consistency and routines may provide a way to structure your day. If your child has consistent routines, but is having difficulty managing their time and current workload, they may want to consider taking the next step and scheduling certain tasks within their routine.

Building Structure

Consistency and predictability are extremely important during times of change. Although some things may be out of our control, kids feel better when they know what to expect in their environment. Consistency means that you respond to behavior the same way every time and that your expectations don’t change based on where you are or your mood. For example, if your child is expected to complete their morning work in order to have 30 minutes of screen time. They only get the screen time if they have completed their morning work, and if they complete their work, then they always get the screen time. Enforcing the consequence for negative and positive behaviors consistently is called follow-through. Consistency, predictability, and follow-through make it easier for children because they make children feel safe. It is also less stressful for parents because they can respond the same way each time by setting up if/then statements for behaviors and rewards/consequences. Often implementing structure means that the day follows a certain pattern or routine. There also may be routines during important times of day such as bedtime or mealtime that help everyone understand what to do and when. Here are some additional tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to build structure and create family rules to help children feel safe at home even with the outside world is chaotic.

Creating a Home Routine

Routines will probably look different than they did when kids were in school, and that’s expected. The most important thing to remember is that routines need to be consistent. It is important that outside time and exercise, meal times, and quiet time are included in the daily schedule. Kids still need ample time (2-3 times a day) to go outside, play, ride a bike, or take a family walk. They also need to continue to eat three healthy meals instead of giving in to the temptation to eat all day. In addition, everyone benefits from some quiet time to read, rest, or practice mindfulness activities like yoga or meditation. It’s also a good idea to have time each day for kids to connect with relatives or friends on video conferencing apps like Facetime or Google Duo. Although some time should be scheduled to get necessary tasks accomplished, there is also value in providing kids of all ages with some unstructured free time. Part of the potential positive of this time is that we may learn how to shape a life and daily routine that has a little more room to rest and breathe than before the quarantine. Think about when you need to work as a parent, and plan activities during those times that kids can do independently. 

Schedules You Can Stick To

A plan is easier to stick to when you have it mapped out. A visual schedule or plan with color-coded activities located in specific blocks of time can be especially helpful to students who have trouble focusing including students with ADHD. The schedule that a student creates will be based on the routines they have in place and the items in their to-do list. 

Decide on Priorities

Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said, “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” Children will have more clarity about what to include in their daily schedule if parents guide them in learning how to prioritize the tasks that they are presented with. Students can sort through these priorities by putting their tasks on sticky notes and arranging them in the Eisenhower Matrix or drawing an Eisenhower Matrix and placing their tasks in the appropriate box.

Process Sorting

This tracks our process of getting a task completed. It can mean that the to-do list for the day is written on flashcards or sticky notes that can be moved from the incomplete to the complete pile or category once accomplished. Older students, or students who have difficulty keeping track of papers may enjoy using a program like Trello that will allow them to do this same activity online. Students should always start with the most challenging, unpleasant, or urgent tasks and save easier tasks for less focused times in the afternoon. For kids who have trouble sustaining the momentum needed to get their work done consider using things they enjoy like screen time or time outside as a break that they earn after completing a few academic tasks.

Blocking Time

If they have not already, students should make a to-do list for the day and estimate how long each task will take. Then, they can use an hourly planner and markers or a whiteboard divided with time for each hour and colored sticky notes to visually schedule each task from their to-do list in a block of time. They may have routines in place, such as: “If it’s 9:30 then I work on English for an hour.” When creating a schedule, they would schedule specific daily English tasks within that time period. It is helpful visually to use a different color for each task. Students can streamline this daily process and share their schedule with other family members by using an online calendar like the Google Calendar. This also allows them to see their tasks no matter where they are or easily break up or repeat recurring or extended tasks.

We would love to hear what strategies you use to schedule your time and what routines are working for your family. Please leave your questions and comments below. Tune in next week for our free weekly Wednesday webinar. The topic next week will be staying focused during academic tasks.

 

~Nina

Click below to watch my weekly live update:

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Co-Owner and Director of Education

Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.

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Pam Cantrell Burton
Pam Cantrell Burton
2020-10-14T16:15:51+0000
Parrish Learning Zone helped my daughter with on-line SAT and college essay preparation. She not only scored in the top 90 percentile on the SAT after working with Lauren Cannavo, she especially benefited from the tutoring she received for her admission essays. My daughter was accepted at Notre Dame, UVA, William and Mary, and received scholarships to George Washington University and the University of Alabama. She was initially deferred at the University of Chicago and waitlisted at University of Michigan and Emory University. She eventually chose not to remain on the waitlists and committed to UVA.Lauren also advised our daughter regarding her submission of a 20 page essay on community service for DECA, a high school business club. Our daughter, along with her partner, won second place in her category at the DECA state competitions in 2019 and 2020, and received second place at the DECA international competition in 2019.Lauren was not only a top-notch professional, she really cared about our daughter and was so pleased about her accomplishments. We are so very grateful to her and Parrish Learning Zone.
Marijayne Kruus
Marijayne Kruus
2020-05-11T21:51:37+0000
love the owner. love the detailed feedback. love the attentiveness of the tutor. love Parrish!!!
Jessica Bartels
Jessica Bartels
2019-02-26T22:49:55+0000
My daughter has a math learning disability and hated math. We started working with Nina Parrish and stuck with it for several months. Her grades have improved, but more importantly, so has her self confidence. She now loves going to work on math and will even work on it at home by herself. We are grateful for Parrish Learning Zone!
Laura Ivey Ellis
Laura Ivey Ellis
2018-12-14T14:36:43+0000
Mr. Chaves is an extremely gifted chemistry teacher. It's such a difficult subject--my son was drowning by the time we found PLZ. This was truly a last ditch effort on our part. Mr. Chaves was able to turn that ship around after only 4 lessons and my son passed the SOL! He was able to distill difficult concepts in a way that made them comprehensible and he was patient and kind and gave my son the confidence to succeed. His actual eacher expressed surprise and made a point of telling him he didn't know how he did it but he was impressed. It takes a gifted teacher to get results like that.I only wish we'd found PLZ and Mr. Chaves in the beginning of the school year.
Wendy Zelazny
Wendy Zelazny
2018-06-08T02:05:15+0000
Highly Recommend
Anne Kater Reeves
Anne Kater Reeves
2018-06-07T22:46:05+0000
I highly recommend Parrish Learning Zone. My daughter was able to achieve the SAT score she was aiming for with the help of her Math (Mr. James Slane) and English (Mrs. Lauren Cannavo) tutors. Not only did they help her with practice tests but they also boosted her confidence in taking the SAT. The owners (Nina and Jay) were always prompt in answering my emails. They are very accommodating and worked around my daughter’s schedule (thank you Shiela for all your help in finding available dates for my daughter to meet with her tutors). Thank you Parrish Learning Zone for helping my daughter achieve her goal!
Beth Yankovich
Beth Yankovich
2018-03-23T20:29:18+0000
I can't say enough good things about Parrish Learning Zone. My son has historically suffered from low reading comprehension. I felt he needed a little extra help so I contacted Parrish Learning Zone. The owners at Parrish matched my son with the perfect tutor for him, they developed a rapport almost immediately. He is now in 8th grade and doing well in all his classes. My son is very active in school sports and the staff at Parrish are always very accommodating. They always reschedule with no problems. My son even likes to go early to chat with Sheila.
Beth Kent
Beth Kent
2017-11-08T18:59:11+0000
Awesome! Very structured and student focused - they identified the areas of weakness and turned those into areas of strength in a very short amount of time. I loved the communication from the tutor and the company. I received a specific report of my child's tutoring session including improvements and areas that needed continued work. I received reminders of upcoming tutor sessions - which I needed!! I felt the individual attention and service was worth every penny AND found the prices to be much more reasonable that other tutors in the area. I would HIGHLY recommend Parrish Learning Zone to any parent that needs to find highly competent tutoring help for their child. Parrish is simply the best!
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
2017-03-14T15:53:50+0000
An excellent place to take your kids for any tutoring needs! PLZ is a very personalized and hands on service! Both of my teenage boys have been through here for various reasons and I know we will continue to make use of them!
Tammy Elms Mosco
Tammy Elms Mosco
2016-06-02T12:20:59+0000
Masiel Dubois
Masiel Dubois
2015-06-23T22:16:01+0000
SAT Prep Course with Parish Learning is definitely a worthwhile invest !!...My son's scores improved over 200 plus points!!
Janice Boles
Janice Boles
2014-12-02T22:34:32+0000
I am extremely thankful to Parrish Learning Zone. I have a son that is a freshman in college majoring in mechanical engineering. I am so glad that we found out about the Parrish Learning Zone because they were very caring and really worked hard around my sons high school football schedule to ensure that he received all of the needed instruction in order to do well on the SAT testing. It was a great investment for his future. I believe this experience prepared my son for the transition to college life. He was able to attend a top engineering college and to play football there. My daughter is a senior in high school now and was admitted into two of the top ranked public schools in Virginia. She will be a freshman at one of these schools next year. She also was enrolled in the Parrish Learning Zone for preparation for the SAT. I am again thankful to the Parrish Learning Zone and feel that this was a great long term investment into their futures. I would strongly recommend the Parrish Learning Zone to anyone looking for an environment that offers a caring and knowledgeable approach to educating students. They are the best.
Angela Jackson
Angela Jackson
2014-05-15T00:39:39+0000
Andrew Powers
Andrew Powers
2014-02-09T12:32:29+0000

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