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

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

RePost: Establishing a Summer Routine

Boredom is the big beast of summer isn't it? Nobody wants their kids to be bored! Well, I have a GREAT PLAN that will help you eliminate boredom from your summer... A ROUTINE!

I know that sounds like a contradiction, right? But seriously, I find that one of the biggest reasons my kids get bored is that they don't have a reliable structure to their day. This works fine for a few days, but very soon they are like little spinning tops roaming around the house spinning from activity to activity. However, when I have some sort of regular routine (not a schedule, mind you!) we all do so much better.

Our schedule this summer will include: morning and afternoon chore times, family projects (household projects like cleaning out the playroom), outside playtime, Read or Rest time, screen time (TV, video game, computer), Read Aloud time (where I read aloud or we listen to a book on tape) and game time (educational games to keep schooling, but in a fun way).

So, do you want some help getting your summer routine started?

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.

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. Here's what I did last year: Visual Schedule

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.)

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. We love the Putumayo Kids CDs (you can listen to samples).

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".

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.

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.

Want more ideas for beating the boredom beast? We ARE That Family is hosting a "Mom I'm Bored" Works-For-Me-Wednesday and there are TONS of great links!

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Paula @ Organizing Tips For Moms said...

I love routines, too. Good point about the enviroment and using calm music during calm times.

pragmaticcompendium said...

oh, I LOVE this:

"the thermostat not the thermometer of their home (a thermostat sets the temperature; a thermometer just reacts to it)"

Our family works better with heads ups and music too.

We don't have a routine, exactly, we have certain things we accomplish in a "regular" day - like a daily to do list.

Our best "routine" is a 20 minute play/20 minutes work cycle that can include everything from (play) video games, tv, board games, shooting hoops ... to (work) dishwasher, laundry, weeding, extracting stuff from the car, vacuuming, learning - math, reading, practicing musical instruments... Swimming time is always longer than 20 minutes.

We're two weeks into summer and so far, so good.

Kerry said...

Hi, Paula! Music really can rev up my crew and make chore time much more fun...or it can really chill them out.

pragmaticcompendium -
Sounds like you've got a great routine going! I love the 20 minute idea!

Julie said...

You are so right about the 5 minutes heads up. This was a life saver when my children were younger!

HomeGrownMommy said...

I have been posting about the same type of things on my blog too! Seems lots of families are struggling with this idea of routines and schedules. I can always stand to improve mine - I'll be incorporating the "5 minute heads up" you were talking about! Thanks for all the great ideas!

Kerry said...

HomeGrownMommy - I'll have to come check out your ideas for summer schedules/routines!

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