“Mom, when are we going to soccer practice?” “Dad, when’s dinner?” “Mom, can I spend the night at Mark’s tomorrow night?” “Dad, do I have to clean my room now?” “Mom, can’t I do my homework later?”
Sometimes it is easier to answer these types of questions and move on with our routine, other times we are exhausted because we have said that room cleaning ALWAYS happens on Saturday mornings or soccer is ALWAYS Thursday nights. Looks like your kids need a schedule/calendar. Not your schedule, their own personal agenda to reference.
Depending on your child’s age and ability level, you can easily develop a schedule that will turn them into independent beings while developing their organizational skills, time management, and establishing an understanding of routines. The schedule should be in the same spot, easily accessible, and could be the area they go to for homework or study time.
- 1 year – 5 year olds: Schedules can be daily or weekly. They should contain pictures rather than words so that the child is able to manipulate and understand it without a parent. For example, Suzy is a waiter. She waits until her mom tells her to get dressed each morning before doing so. She waits until her mom yells, “Breakfast” before she heads to the kitchen. She waits for her dad to ask if she has brushed her teeth before going to the sink. She waits until her parents are shuffling her out the door before she says she needs to use the restroom. She waits for others to make her choices. Oh, Suzy. She would do best with a daily schedule. Have her take pictures of each activity that she does on a daily basis and also take a selfie. Print out the pictures and put them in sequential order according to the daily routine. Next, to each picture have a piece of velcro. Suzy will move her selfie down the line of activities throughout the day until she has completed her schedule. Show her a couple of times how the schedule works and once she gets the hang of it you can then say, “Suzy, check your schedule. What is next?” Soon, Suzy will get the hang of following a schedule and won’t need that reminder. In addition, with an analog clock and some markers, you can establish a visual time-lapsed routine with Suzy. For instance, every morning from 7 to 8 is getting ready for school time. Color that portion of the clock green. 11 to 12 is lunch time; color that portion of the clock blue (or some other previously decided color). You get the picture! Using visuals supports independence and Suzy will soon move from a “waiter” into a “doer”. GO SUZY!
- 6 years to 14 year olds: Schedules may move to weekly; however, if you have a child that needs a daily checklist, you may end up with a weekly calendar and a schedule. Weekly schedules can include game nights, practices, piano lessons, Girl Scout meetings, when a parent is away on a business trip, when they will be picked up late from school, or if there is a daily pickup routine from school where parents switch off pick up. Having access to their week allows for you to talk with them about priorities, organizing homework time, developing a tutoring schedule for school when tests are approaching, or deciding when would be the best time for them to complete their chores. First, you want to lay out the weekly schedule for them so they can see an example. Then you can move to completing the schedule with them and showing how you decide when to do what activities. Finally, have them organize and prioritize the schedule on their own. Soon you will have a top-notch tween, ready to take on everything. 🙂
- 15-18 year olds: Most likely you are going to have three schedules with this crowd. Daily, weekly, and monthly. Think about how you have checklists for the day, week, and big things that get placed on the calendar way in advance. Help your child understand how to prioritize and layout plans in advance so that they know what is to come, but also know how to respond when plans change.
If you feel like you need more specific supports with your child and the ways of schedules and organizing their lives, reach out to us. We are more than happy to help!
How does scheduling work in your family?