Now that summertime is on the way out and fall is on its way in, Liz Matheis, Ph.D., gives tips on how to help your child stick to a schedule, even with so many unknowns during this time.
This summer, many of our camps were shut down in New Jersey. Our vacation plans were tentative and had then been canceled. These are long days that seem to have no schedule, no routine, and no plan. For many of us parents, we are still working; some of us are even returning to our office buildings to resume in-person work. The question that sits before me as I look adoringly over my three children is: “What are they going to do now?”
If you’re anything like me, I worry deeply about how much instruction my children have lost thus far. Not only have all of our children experienced the usual three-month summer slide, but now our children will be experiencing the six-month summer slide, and perhaps even longer as the year progresses. What can we do to slow down the decline in skills and get (and keep) our kids “school ready”? I have a few ideas.
Hire a Tutor
There are many teachers, high school students, and college students who are available to provide instruction to our children in a specific subject or area where your child doesn’t thrive as easily as in other areas. If you’re looking for a specialized curriculum, like Orton-Gillingham, you will need to find a teacher with training or certification.
Set a Four-Day Schedule
If you are still in summer-mode, keep the schedule light and easy. That is, set the expectation for your child or children that they will work on schoolwork four days per week with a three-day weekend. A five-day schedule may seem overwhelming and decrease your child’s motivation.
Create a Schedule-ish
If you have pre-teens or teens, you will want to build in time for your child to sleep in, and then set a time that he will begin reading or working on math. Ideally, schoolwork is best completed in the morning when energy and motivation are still high. Any work that is attempted after 3 p.m. will likely not be completed. For the remainder of the day, your child may want the flexibility to set her agenda however she likes, as long as her reading and writing work has been completed.
Let an App Take Care of That
If your children are anything like mine, they dread having me lead their instruction (and I dread it too). Allow your child to practice skills using apps or software programs that are visual, colorful, and maybe even fun. Avoid workbooks and worksheets if you can as they are a huge turn off to every child everywhere.
Set the Timer
We all know that we have our ideal amount of time during which we can focus and complete work. For some, that time span is 10 minutes, 25 minutes, 35 minutes, or 45 minutes. Instead of looking at what can be an endless amount of time to work on a subject or skill, set a timer. Once it rings, stop. Set another time for a 3- or 5-minute break and then get back into it. Small chunks of time, small chunks of work, and it gets done without a ton of blood, sweat, and tears.