Tag Archives: planning

Daily Planning

23 May

Now that the big activities and events are on your summer calendar, it’s time to look individual days.

If you have younger children, you probably have a regular routine that you can continue during the summer. However, if you have a mix of younger kids and school age kids, it might not be so easy. Your school age kids aren’t used to being home with you every day and will want a plan that revolves around what they want to do.

Here are some suggestions to make everyone have a happy summer, and remember, this is a routine so it needs to remain flexible.

Before 9:00 Parents can do their things and the kids can have breakfast, sleep in, watch some cartoons, etc.

9:00 Everyone is out of their pjs, breakfast eaten and ready to start the day.

9-10:00ish Get in some time outdoors, play a game, do a simple art project, science experiment, run some errands, etc.

10:00-11:30ish Major day activity: Library, Volunteering, etc. Depending upon the age of your kids, you can incorporate the 9-10 time with this time.

11:30-12:30ish Make, eat and clean up lunch. The kids should help with all aspects of this

12:30-1:30ish Quiet time for everyone, even mom! Everyone retreats to their room for some time away from each other. This may mean naps, resting, reading or other quiet activity. We don’t recommend video or hand held games during this time because kids need to learn how to relax their body and mind.

1:30-4:30ish This is our get outside, learn how to play independently, go to the pool, have a friend over, tire the kids out time. Summer may seem like kids should stay up until all hours, but you will have less meltdowns and drama if the kids go to bed at a reasonable time. So use this time to get the kids worn out.

4:30-6:30ish Clean up, dinner prep, quiet play and dinner. This is a great time to have the kids help clean up after the outdoor activities. They can also help you prepare for dinner. At 5 years old, we think kids are ready to plan and cook a full meal with you at least once during the summer. Having them help you prepare daily meals will prepare them for making a meal on their own. It also gives you great time to talk to your kids. Younger kids can “cook” by playing with old spices and mixing bowls. Older kids may want to make pictures using left over cereal, dried beans, etc. while you cook. (Check out this idea our faculty member, Gretchen Stout, did with her kids at dinner time prep.)

6:30-7:30ish Special time with a parent. This is a great time to spend with mom or dad if they work outside the house. Or, you can spend individual time with just one child.

7:30-8:30ish Bath, bed and story time. Just because the kids went in the pool for the day doesn’t mean a bath isn’t important. The point of the bath is to set a bedtime routine and relax them for sleeping. You can make the bath fun by putting some glow sticks in the water and turning out the lights or fill the bath with lots of balloons. We’ve pinned a few fun bathtub ideas on our Pinterest board. Because it’s summer, you also don’t have to rush bath time, so let them play. After the bath, have the same routine about brushing teeth, putting on pjs and reading a story. Again, you don’t have to rush.

9:00ish Lights out and the grownups can spend some time together.

Mapping Out the Big Stuff

22 May

When I think about my childhood summer, I think about days on end spent outside swimming and playing. When I think about my own children’s summer, I think about scheduling. It’s unfortunate, I clearly know, but I function better with a routine and so do my kids. The most important thing I remember about creating our summer routine is that it is never set in stone and can always be changed.

My last blog gave you a video overview of how I plan my summers with my kids, and today I’ll break it down in to how I map out the “big” stuff. Since the school year is busy and exhausting that we often don’t take advantage of our great city or spend as much time doing the things that are truly important to our family. Our summer calendar allows us spend more quality time together and enjoying the things we love. Now that my children are older, we also have some major activities, events, and camps that they attend. Here’s how I make it all work.

First: The first thing I write on my calendar are: camps, vacations, mission trips, and any other events that have unchangeable dates.

Next: After those are in place, I give each weekday a specific activity. In our house, Monday is library day, Tuesday is volunteer day, Wednesday is major chore day, Thursday is school work day, and Friday is field trip day. Your family may want to make one day play date day or pool day. It just depends upon what works for your family and how old your children are.

Now that you see how I map out the major events, let me give you a few suggestions for the each day.

Library Day: You may not know all of the services your library offers; I know we didn’t. Here’s a list of some things your library may offer during the summer. Storytimes, art activities, guest musicians, performances, summer reading programs. We even found out that our library has a program for kids 12 and up that gives them the opportunity to review books before they are even published. My avid reader can’t wait to be part of that this summer. Teach your kids about all of the resources the library can offer them. Trust me, when they’re in high school they’ll appreciate it! Don’t forget to check out some books, too!

Volunteer Day: Did you know that even infants can volunteer? When my kids were ages 0 and 3, we would make a weekly visit to the assisted living home. The residents loved it! I will never forget the older woman who sat in her wheelchair and rolled a ball with my son who was a crawler at the time. At the end of our visit, she would always ask if we would be back. My 3-year-old would color or do a simple puzzle with the residents. They always loved getting her pictures when she was finished.

Some volunteer places have age restrictions but Meals on Wheels and nursing homes are always appreciative of children’s art work. (I’m sure you have a lot of drawings around your house you don’t know what to do with. ;)) Older children can help prepare meals, stuff envelopes for an organization, dust the shelves or clean pews at a church. There are so many organizations needing help, I’m sure you will easily find something that works for your family. (You can always contact Smart Mom U for volunteer ideas. We’d be happy to help you.)

Major Chore Day: Daily chores are great but why not get some help with major chores around the house. Aren’t kids closer to the baseboards than you? This is a great life lesson to teach kids about keeping their living area clean and healthy. Here’s a list of some chores your kids can do to help around the house.

School day: Even though school is out, it’s still important to keep those little minds engaged. Research shows that kids who don’t do any work over the summer lose 2 months worth of learning and they spend the beginning of the new school year catching up. If your kids are little, spend only 15-30 minutes working on some simple skills. Older elementary and middle schoolers should spend about an hour on some kind of school work. This summer, we’re going to work on our writing skills. Although my kids have learned good writing skills at school, we’re going to focus on learning how to narrow down a story topic, writing more interesting sentences, improving word choice. It sounds daunting but all I am doing is taking what they have brought home from school and helping them edit one or two stories during the summer. You can get more ideas for school-like activities on our website in our Summer School or Junior College. (P.S. Workbooks are good but not necessary. We do recommend Summer Bridge workbooks and have them for sale through Amazon in our website bookstore.)

Field Trip Day: This is one of my favorite days because our city has so much to offer kids of all ages. We have been on some field trips that weren’t so fun, but most of them have been fantastic. There are even some my kids request every summer. Some of the field trips we take are for learning purposes so I try to choose some that went along with what they studied during the year. For instance, they all learned about Kansas History so we will take a field trip to one of the sites that has costumed interpreters who will demonstrate what Kansas was like during the pioneer days. Other field trips are just to get out and have some fun. We may bring a picnic and some friends and try a park we’ve never been to. Younger kids may enjoy being engaged during a field trip and we have lots of ideas on how to do this, so let us know how we can help.

You’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have this summer with a little bit of planning. Don’t forget to contact us if you need some ideas.

The Calendar

21 May

If you have trouble viewing the video, click on the title.

Getting Your Kids Back “Into” School

17 Aug
Special thanks to our guest blogger, Dr. Keith Kanner, psychologist, author and radio host of Your Family Matters
Background: If your family is like most, your children and adolescents are still in a state of denial that school begins in about three weeks from now. As parents however, you are ready for the summer to end and excited about getting them back into structure yet you fear their adjustment into a new year of academics and wonder if they are prepared to manage the tasks ahead. Many parents avoid the concept of talking to their children about a new school year for they fear putting their children into bad moods and getting into a fight. On the other hand, when parents do not approach talking about getting ready for school and looking ahead to expectations for success, the avoided conflicts tend to emerge shortly after school begins when problems may already have arisen.
As with any transition, preparing ahead of time is always a good idea. When situations are thought through, discussed, and planned for, there tends to be less anxiety generated and a greater likelihood for success. Young children in particular are not yet capable of thinking in the abstract and plan ahead and need assistance in understanding what is expected of them and how to reach their goals. Many times parents place responsibilities on their children that they are not able to developmentally manage which can set their child up for failure. The responsibilities of school are common areas where parents either expect their child to manage themselves or rely on the school to teach them how to both organize and study.
Parents of both grade and middle school students need to sit down with their children prior to each school year and discuss both expectations and plans on how to help them succeed. Reviewing the importance of school, your faith in their abilities to manage their work, and discussing concepts such as studying, organization, and note taking are all essential in making sure their child feels prepared. Often times after such discussions, the parents and child determine that there may be some areas that need some assistance and this can then be provided which then serves to avoid a later problem. As I have discussed in prior segments, self esteem is generated when the child him of herself experiences success. When the child has the tools necessary to manage their life, success is more likely.
Structure is also very important.  Children and adolescents who have a daily “routine” tend to do better academically and socially.  For example, it is always a good idea to have an after-school plan which entails: 1) an after-school snack; 2) some time for play or sport; and then 3) a scheduled homework time to be performed in a distraction-free environment.  Once homework has been completed, a “reward” time can be offered to celebrate getting through their assignments after a long day of school.  When children have something to look forward towards, they tend to feel less frustrated and seem more motivated.
For the high school student, who can think in the abstract and hopefully understand that their success at this time of their academic life will serve later goals, discussions are also necessary but inquiring with them about how they plan to manage their school work will make them feel as though you respect their intellect. If however, you determine that they do not seem able to manage themselves well enough, you will have to help them as well. Allowing children and adolescents to “learn from their mistakes” is poor judgment on the part of the parent for the child and adolescent is not yet mature enough to manage their lives independently without parents.
A special consideration needs to be made for children who are also starting a new school. Aside from preparing them for the academic tasks ahead, care also needs to be made in terms of helping them adjust to a new environment with new social and developmental challenges. Visiting the new school prior to beginning the school year is always a good idea even if the campus is empty of students. Here, your child can at least get a feel for the new surroundings which will make them less anxious once they arrive on the first day of school.
Key Points
1. discuss school beginning with your child now
2. review expectations for the year ahead of time
3.  implement structure to help with success
4. make sure they have an academic plan and can perform the required tasks
5. get them some help if needed early
6. visit the school ahead of time if a new environment
Dr. Keith Kanner
Anchor/Host Your Family Matters
www.kanner.tv

Ready or Not, Here It Comes

27 Jul

Over the next five weeks, Brenda will be blogging about getting kids ready for back-to-school. Each week will cover a new topic to prepare kids for a successful start of a new year.

Ahhh….It’s early morning, and I’m relishing the peaceful stillness and a cup of coffee while my kids are still fast asleep. Screeeech! (That is the sound effect you would hear my brain making if this was television.) At this time, three weeks from now, I will have already spent two hours waking up kids, feeding them a healthy breakfast, making lunches, making sure they have everything for their first day of school and getting them out the door on time. Whew! It would be so much easier if they went to the same school with the same starting times. But no, for us, it’s high school, middle school and elementary school. My peaceful, early mornings will soon be a thing of the past-starting next week.

Two weeks before school is the magic date for us to get back in shape for the start of a new year; regular bed times and wake up times. Just the thought of the first few days with the kids on that schedule sends shivers up my spine, especially with two teenagers. But, as a former teacher, and mother, I know how important sleep is for my children’s physical, mental and emotional health and development and the importance of getting back into a sleep routine before school starts, not when school starts.

Resuming regular bedtimes starts with some planning. First and foremost, I give our kids a week of reminders that we will be starting our sleep schedule routine. Of course this hinders my high schooler’s social life tremendously, but she’s the one who needs the most sleep! During that week, I begin planning which consists of finding as many exhausting activities as possible for each day. It could be the zoo, swimming, hiking, play dates, washing the cars, or any other physically exhausting activities. Once you have your plan in place, share it with your family because your kids will be more comfortable if they know what the plan entails.

At the two-week mark, it’s time to implement the plan. It starts with a good bedtime routine the night before making sure we get to bed at least a half hour earlier than we have been during the summer. Wake your kids up at a reasonable time the next morning and allow them to acclimate. The first several days will be challenging but hang in there. Enjoy your activities in the morning and afternoon saving the evening for quieter activities that signal bedtime. Each night, put your child to bed and wake them up 15 minutes earlier until they are on their school schedule. Make sure that you get to bed on time, too.

With a little planning and implementing, you’ll get the new school year off to a great start, and your child’s teacher will appreciate your effort.

For more information on back-to-school sleep routines, visit our campus by clicking here or WebMD

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