The next item of business in my quest to cut down on before and after school chaos is for the kids to become a well oiled machine and function on autopilot when they walk in the door from the bus.
I was thinking back to my teaching days.
You spend the first couple weeks nailing down routines when the kids start school.
It can be a little tedious on the front end, but it’s not long before you don’t really have to remind or nag the kids to do anything.
And you have 20+ kids in your classroom and very little chaos. Lots of order.
I know it’s not the same at home.
We have all had at least one conference where the teacher tells us how awesome our kid is in school and we look at her like she’s an alien because she cannot possibly be talking about the same kid we have to deal with at home.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some sort of routine.
We sort of had one last year. But it didn’t work that well. Partially because I didn’t have much of a plan.
(Fail to plan, plan to fail)
So I thought about the things that haven’t worked and the things that have, and I came up with this checklist:
I printed out copies for the kindergartener, first grader, fourth grader, and fifth grader.
I had some of those plastic sheet protectors, and I put each checklist inside of one.
I also had a magnetized dry erase marker. It works really well on those sheet protectors.
Next, I hung them on the fridge in the mudroom, right where the kids come in from outside.
Number 3 came home from school about a half hour ago.
I went through all the items on the list with him.
I made sure he knew how to file the papers he had gotten correctly (my system for that is coming tomorrow).
It worked like a charm.
His lunch is already made and packed for tomorrow!
The key to this system working will be making sure I help them follow through this week and next week.
I also went through the list with my husband. Now he knows the routine. And that’s another part of the goal. To make sure all adults in the house are on the same page so we have consistency. When my parents come up tomorrow, I will also go through this with them. Then we will have consistency.
Number 6, the kindergartener, will probably need a little more help than the other kids.
I might need to simplify his list.
But that’s the other thing I like about this set up. If after a week or so I see that something is missing or isn’t working and this list needs to be revised, I can just make a few changes, print out a new one, and put the new and improved list into the plastic sleeve.
If I can do that, afternoons will become automatic.
And I’m really looking forward to that.