In my first year in the classroom, I was complaining to my mentor teacher about some student behaviors that I just was not liking – just venting my frustrations about my ill-behaved children. I will never forget what that teacher told me… “Well, then change them!”
Duh! I don’t know why I was so stuck on doing the same things over and over and yet expecting better results. Even worse was that I was blaming the kids for acting up when, in reality (as hard as this was to admit), the behavior plan and procedures I had created were the problem.
I think about that bit of advice quite often when it comes to my own children. We started the school year off with a great routine for homework. A set place, a set time, materials at the ready… but as the year has progressed, I was hearing more and more complaints about homework: “Can I puh-lease have a snack first?” “I want to sit over heeeeeere instead.” “Do I HAVE to do homework tonight?” “I don’t like homework!” “Can I go play outside first?”
Something’s gotta change.
I developed a new plan and posted it in the middle of our dining room for everyone to see…
After School Schedule
1. Snack Time. This was the biggest reason my kids were complaining about homework… their tummies were rumbling!
2. Homework. I make up homework for my 3 year old (something easy for him to do on his own so I can assist my kindergartner). I haven’t had any complaints since it is written on the board and they must finish steps 2 and 3 to get to the much-anticipated step 4!
3. Bible Memory Verse. Since this is written on the board, we have practiced our memory verses and read our Bibles EVERY DAY this week! What a great reminder for me too!
4. Unplugged Free Time. The kids may choose to play outside, read a book or play quietly in their room. They may NOT play video games, use the computer or turn on the TV. This is normally the time where I feed the baby and begin dinner prep, so they know that mom is unavailable at this time to play. Any fighting means free time ends immediately and we have longer chore time.
5. Chores. The kids have to feed the dogs so they aren’t begging at the table for dinner, clear the table, and pick up toys in the living room. (I will write another post on chores really soon!)
6. Activity Time. By this time, my husband is home from work. One of us gets started on dinner and the other does an activity with the kids (play-dough, building blocks, legos, coloring, etc.) This makes up for the fact that I am not available to play with them during Unplugged Free Time.
7. Prayer. At this time we are all seated for dinner. I made sure to put PRAYER on our list so they would not start eating before praying.
8. Dinner & 9. Clean Up. By putting both of these on the list my kids have been waiting until they are completely finished eating before they start getting up and down out of their chairs. Dinner time has not been the normal circus act that it normally is after having our new routine in place.
10. Free Time. At this point, the kids are allowed to play video games, watch TV, or play on the computer. Funny, though… since starting our new after school activity list, we have BARELY turned on either of these electronics!!! This is a great change as we had gotten into the nasty habit of having something on all of the time.
11. Bath and 12. Bed. We have had ZERO complaints about either of these because the children can SEE these on the list! They KNOW it’s coming after their Free Time and they have been so compliant! It’s magic!
What behaviors, procedures or routines do you want changed in your house? What can you do to change them now? The key to our new routine is that it is posted for everyone to see. Find a great spot to post any new changes you make so your children will be reminded of them frequently. It will definitely prevent a few more gray hairs from poking through, and hopefully you will have a few less tantrums on your hands!