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Rooting for Routines

Being able to determine what will happen this school year will be a little difficult, but we know for certain that going into a school year with the uncertainty of a dangerous virus on the loose means having structure and routine will be more important than ever.

mother and child walking to schoolSimple daily routines help kids feel more secure and adults feel more relaxed. Routines basically stay the same whether school is in another building or at home. Here are a few really important times when routines make a big difference in how your family tackles their school year.

Sleep is an important routine to establish for a healthy body and brain. This is true for children and adults. We know that a good morning starts the night before. Kindergartners need 10 to 13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. School-age youth need nine to 12 hours, teens need eight to 10 hours and adults need seven to nine hours.

Determine what time you need to be out the door in the morning, then back the time up enough hours to get ready for bed, get ready in the morning and have enough sleep hours to feel refreshed the next day. That will give you the bedtime you need for each child and yourself. Visit Snooze News The Importance of Healthy Sleep Habits for more information.

Eating also is important. One of the hardest parts about holding school at home for working parents is the near constant need to supply snacks and lunches, as well as an evening meal.

Make packing lunches and snacks a part of everyone’s evening routine. This will save time, as well as reduce waste and arguments in the morning. If your children are learning at home, keep the same meal and snack schedule your students would have at school to keep the family from snacking out of boredom and the dishes from piling up in the sink.

Exercise needs to be part of our daily routine, too. Schedule breaks to move during the day. Teachers provide their students with brain boosts to keep the oxygen flowing. What can you do from home?

Walk around the block like a turkey or bear, march, skip - the possibilities are numerous. Have a dance party in the driveway, make up your own family cheer complete with actions, kick a ball or toss beanbags while the weather holds. Walk up and down the stairs. Lift soup can “weights” to a song. Ten minutes of physical activity can make sitting down feel good again.

Evening routines, in addition to prepping food, can include checking homework, packing backpacks and laying out clothes. Checking the weather together for the next day is a great “numbers” skill for school-age children and may sway the clothing choice.  

Make helping one another succeed a routine matter, too. Housework is family work. However, standards may have to slide when the kitchen table becomes an office and a classroom.

If you are working and learning at home all together, try partnering with one child at a time to do dishes and talk. Teach everyone to help according to their ability with laundry, cleaning, making beds and yardwork. Family work needs to be shared to be learned, and it’s always a good time to build teamwork and teach skills.

 

Kim Bushaw
NDSU Extension Family Science Specialist

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