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How to Juggle After School Activities

by Margot F. | October 15th, 2014 | Elementary, School

Child choir competition-2With school in session, many parents are interested in signing their child up for extra-curricular activities. Given everyone’s busy schedule, how do parents juggle working, childcare and after school activities?

Organization is important. Children at any age can help manage their own schedules.

In Kindergarten, printing a monthly calendar which is put in the child’s room helps the child know when they are in school or staying home for the weekend. Because most five- and six-year-olds cannot read yet, it is helpful to use picture symbols for “school” and “home”. As reading ability improves, the symbols can be replaced with the appropriate words.

Many five-year-olds are ready to begin studying music, perhaps piano or violin lessons. If this is important in your family, indicate on the child’s calendar when the lesson will occur with a reminder on other days to practice scales and pieces. Signing up for an organized sport such as soccer is also popular. For many children in Kindergarten who are adjusting to the structure of school, one extra-curricular activity might be enough. Also, for parents who are experiencing school as an adult for the first time, try to keep things simple. The school system places more expectations on everyone than daycare, so give yourself a chance to adjust.

By Grade 1, children and parents are more aware of how to prepare for school and other activities. Continue to give the child a monthly calendar with school days, weekends and holidays marked. On activity days, the child can now prepare the night before by putting out appropriate clothing and equipment. Also, discuss what snacks are needed and have them prepared in advance.

Once school starts, meal preparation can become stressful. One suggestion is to schedule an hour on the weekend and plan lunches and dinners for everyone during the week. Next, list the fruits, vegetables and other food items needed and try to buy most of them in advance. On a white board, list the meals for each day. If possible, make a big dinner over the weekend, then freeze a couple of portions for later in the week.

By Grades 4 to 6, many children are busy with a couple of after school activities. With demands from work, could a grandparent take the child to an activity? For many grandparents, this can be an excellent chance to bond with the grandchild and create positive memories.

Ensure there is time in the weekly schedule for homework. Generally, it is recommended that a child work on homework about five to 10 minutes for each grade level on most week nights. Setting aside a specific time and place to do the homework helps to establish a routine which can continue through school. This also gives the parent a chance to see how the child is doing academically. If the child is struggling in school, maybe it is time to reassess the after school activities.

To juggle the demands of after school activities, it is important to be organized. With a little planning, you can do it.

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