In a generation being raised by latch-key kids, the idea of an after-school routine may be a little...foreign, to say the least.
During the 1980s and 90s, the children of Generation X were left to their own devices after school while both parents were out working. The kids of Generation X are raising their own children now, and it is time to address a big question among the parenting community: what about after school now?
Whether your child attends an after-school program, daycare, or goes home after class, a proper routine each afternoon is a great way to promote childhood wellness.
A routine is defined as activities that occur in the same order at approximately the same time each day (Sytsma, et al). Although the order you choose for your child appears to be inconsequential according to current data, what is important is that they occur in the same order around the same time.
Quality after-school routines also appear to work best when they consist of three main components: homework, rest, and housekeeping.
Although the current literature does not exactly support the benefit of regular homework assignments, many public schools around the country still assign homework on a daily or weekly basis. Virtually every student will need to include academics as a regular part of their week. By including homework assignments as a part of your students daily routine, they are more likely to retain the information, less likely to fall behind, and more likely to make better grades.
While academics are an important aspect of every student's schedule, rest also has an equal importance. Allowing your child to rest in the afternoon or evening will allow your child's brain to relax and recharge from a long day. Remember that rest to your child may look different from what you consider rest. Resting to some students may be coloring, playing with toys, watching television, or listening to music.
Okay, moms...before you get too excited I do not mean actual housekeeping! Housekeeping is actually synonymous with taking care of their own, age-appropriate responsibilities. For younger children, this may mean emptying their lunchbox, cleaning out their backpacks, putting away their school clothes, etc.
For older children, this may actually mean a little housekeeping in the form of household chores like folding clothes, doing the dishes, cleaning the floors, etc.
While allowing your child to participate in chores makes parenting much easier, it is always important to ensure that a child's chores are age appropriate.
How Do Routines Help?
1 . Boosts Emotional Development
A solid after-school routine has shown to foster emotional development beginning in toddlerhood. This is especially evident in the formulation of self-regulation, adapting to change, and setting expectations (Dr. Erika Bocknek).
2 . Improves Social Attachments
Children who began a proper routine in early childhood are also more likely to have strong family bonds and improved social attachments. Creation and execution of a firm routine create a sense of family wholeness, which in turn builds the child-caregiver attachment. Children with a healthy attachment to their caregiver are more likely to have healthy relationships with family and friends alike throughout their lifetime, in contrast to their insecurely attached counterparts.
3 . Builds Independence
Creating a healthy routine with your child boosts their sense of independence. By boosting two main aspects, accessibility and predictability, your child knows what is expected of them and has the power to complete their daily tasks. This sense of power over their daily routine gives children a sense of independence and strength that will only build with consistency and growth (Dr. Erika Bocknek).
4 . Lessens the Risk of Attention Obstacles
Children who experienced regular routines are children are less likely to experience attention obstacles such as Attention Deficit Disorder, which may in turn lead to future problems with academics and employment (University of Albany).
Overall, the presence of quality after-school routines work to help your student gain positive characteristics that will follow them for a lifetime.
By ensuring your child has adequate after-school routines, you are able to help promote positive youth development within your student.
Sytsma, S. E., Kelley, M. L., & Wymer, J. H. (n.d.). Development and initial validation of the Child Routines Inventory. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263606965_Development_and_Initial_Validation_of_the_Child_Routines_Inventory
Lantz, T. (2023, February 1). The importance of routines for kids. Zero to Thrive. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://zerotothrive.org/routines-for-kids/#:~:text=Research%20shows%20that%20routines%20support,blocks%20of%20good%20mental%20health.
Study: Daily routines impact childhood development. University at Albany - State University of New York. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.albany.edu/news/75004.php