We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Monday, May 12, 2008

5-steps for establishing a summer routine

Summer is just around the corner. We've had spring fever BAD and have gotten way off our routine. So, I'm kind of starting fresh with a summer routine. Here are my ideas...

1) Decide on the big rocks of our daily life. Plan for these and let them be the "anchors" of our day.
Some examples are: regular meal times, planned snack time, chore time, learning time, play time, read or rest time. Pay attention to the flow of these various "anchors". Try to plan for good variety of structured vs. unstructured and active vs. passive.

Anything I'm missing here? What would you add/drop?

2) Provide some visual cues for the expected flow of our day.
If your kids are pre-readers or highly visual (verses verbal), make a picture chart. Find or draw simple pictures of each of the daily "anchors". These also help with #4 - transitions.

Help for Kids' Speech offers suggestions for visual ways to cue children in to expectations for the daily routine. The article mentions the website Do2Learn which offers various picture cards that can be accessed for free. There are loads of other resources in their subscriber areas, too.

Another idea comes from Family Fun: a doorknob daily reminder. You could use this to remind kids of special events or "themes" for each day. (Park Day, Errand Day, Class Day, etc.)

Any ideas for other wasy to use visual cues? Do you have a resource I might try?

3) Set distinct moods or tones for certain types of activities or times of day.
Quick moodsetters are music and light - moodsetting will also help with #4 - transitions. For example, if you want to get your kids up and going (maybe for chore time or because you are going out for a playdate) make sure the house is bright and try turning on some cheerful or exciting music. In the evening when it is time to wind down, lower the lights in the house and turn on some quieter music.

Another important aspect of moodsetting is tone of voice. Pay attention to the tone you set, too. I read somewhere that parentss should be the thermostat not the thermometer of their home (a thermostat sets the temperature; a thermometer just reacts to it).

Collect some CDs that are particularly energetic or quiet or whatever you need and keep those handy. Or do the 80's thing and make a mix-tape! :) "Mom's Quiet Down Music" or "Mom's Get Up and MOVE Music".

Got some favorite CDs or songs for certain times of day?

4) Work on establishing good transition habits.
Some kids are very easy transitioners and other kids need a lot of help in this area. I have one of each and one inbetween. Here are some quick ideas:

  • Five Minute "Heads Up" - particularly useful when ending a fun, unstructured activity
  • Assessment and Feedback- After chore time is an excellent time to gather the kids and assess how well they did or to "go see" their work. In fact, a "go see" to point out what might have been overlooked followed up with some "good job" kudos is probably a good idea. If you use a chore system or reward chart, this might be the time to incorporate that.
  • What's Next? - Encourage the kids to complete what they are doing by telling them what is coming up next. "When you finish cleaning up the breakfast dishes, we are going to walk to the park." or "After lunch it will be time for Read or Rest."
  • Until tomorrow - Sometimes kids are satisfied to transition to a new activity when they know the one they are currently being asked to stop is one they will get to do again another day. "We'll come back to the park next week." or "You'll get to do playdough again tomorrow."
  • Consolidate- consolidate activities to reduce the number or transitions. (But don't go so far as to spend hours doing the same thing - like chores!) An example might be cleaning up from breakfast and moving right into chore time instead of letting them have playtime after breakfast and chore time later in the morning.

What are some ways you help your kids transition to the next activity?

5) Make it a team effort.

Sit down together and go over the daily routine and your expectations. Talk about the fun stuff you all want to have time for this summer and how your daily routine is going to help you have time for the fun stuff.


Ann Kroeker said...

These are all such great suggestions, for homeschoolers and moms of preschoolers--and for moms of kids in school who are staring summer in the face and need ideas for structure and schedules.

Very nice ideas--many of which I'm going to think through this week.

Great to see you at my blog--hope you have some fun with your chores and duties today!

Ann Kroeker said...

p.s. If you find out that "fartlek" is understood and used in Swedish, I'd love to know. It's widely used among runners, and that's always the explanation for where it originated. If you think of dropping in again later, I'd love to hear from someone who would know!

Jessica said...

I love the concept of thermostat rather than thermometer!

As for music, I have on iTunes a playlist called "singeable" for when I want to be able to sing to my chores and can't remember enough lyrics to get through, and one called "danceable" when I want to get us all up and moving. The best part of the "danceable" one is that it always gets my two year old son happy and, well, dancing! so cute!

It includes songs like "Volcanoland" and "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" and "99 Red Balloons".

Annie said...

Kerry, Great post! Unfortunately, I am a thermometer... who aspires to becoming a thermostat. Thanks for the great suggestions!

Kerry said...

Jessica - would you be willing to make a list of the songs on your lists? Sometimes just finding the appropriate songs is hard and time-consuming. If you want to leave the list in a comment, great - or if you post it on your blog, I'll link to it.

I'd LOVE to copy your lists!


Anonymous said...

Great suggestions for those weeks at home...but I SO rely on his weeks at day camp to keep some sort of structure...also swim team.


Momma said...

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