A kindergartener's hand holds a crayon while coloring a picture at a desk. As your child starts school, it's important to set up a consistent after-school routine that reinforces the concepts that they're learning in the classroom.

5 Steps to the Perfect After-School Routine

Your 5-year-old has likely just started school and is learning all sorts of new things, from their letters to how to sit at a desk for extended periods of time. They may also start getting homework for the first time. As a parent, it's your job to support them in their learning journey and reinforce these concepts at home. A strong after-school routine will help them to not only solidify what they've learned, but will also provide the structure and organization that they will need to be successful students and adults in the future.

  1. Put away school items - As soon as they walk through the door, train them to hang up their coats, put away their shoes and lunch box, and place their backpack near the desk or table they will be working at. Teach them the quote, "Don't put it down, put it away." This will create the habit of staying tidy and organized. Having this discipline will maintain a clean and comforting environment and will help greatly with the morning-time rush.
  2. Have some quiet time - Sit them down at the table and start with a quiet activity like coloring, flipping through a book, or doing a puzzle. Your child has been taking in outside stimuli all day. Having a bit of quiet time before starting work will allow them to calm down and process their busy day. This will also give you the time to prepare a healthy snack.
  3. Give them a healthy snack - Who isn't starving after school or work? Give them a bit of fuel before dinner by providing them with something healthy like sliced apples or a bowl of yogurt.
  4. Homework or skill-builder - Now is the time to check their backpack for any homework or papers that need your attention. Sit with them at the table so they can access your support, as needed. If they don't have any homework yet, give them a skill building activity, like a workbook to trace their letters. This will also give you the opportunity to see if there's any academic areas that need special attention. It shouldn't take too much time. 10-20 minutes is just enough to practice. They've just finished a full day of school, after all.
  5. Clean up the work area - Just like Step 1, cleaning up right after finishing an activity creates good habits that will benefit them all their life. Have them put their papers and writing utensils away and put their backpack by the door so they'll be all ready for tomorrow!

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