Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Easing Back Into A Routine

Did you ever notice how many people are spent, to the max, after the first day or even week of starting back to school? I do, & I admit, I’ve been there before. I use to make the crazy mistake of starting back to school all chipper & gung-ho for the new material & the great year ahead, only to find 5 minutes into our day we were so far behind schedule it was unlikely we’d finish half of what we’d hoped to accomplish in the day.

It’s hard to put in words, but I feel really bad when I read comments about how gutted people are after their first day back, or week, or month. It’s a true struggle & for some it takes even longer to get back into the swing of things.

Something I learned many years ago was that starting back at a very slow pace eliminates that craziness. It goes against the grain, to some degree, to not jump into everything & march boldly forward, but here’s the deal Friends: Your kids aren’t ready.

They’ve spent weeks, or months in some cases, playing hard. Sleeping in, spending hours reading the books of their own choosing, writing crazy funny stories, creating games, making movies, swimming, biking, watching videos, & having fun long late nights where they stay up well past normal telling stories & reliving everything they’ve done.

Getting them to bed a little early the weekend before you start back to business & prepping them with countless reminders isn’t going to really change the fact that snapping out of vacation mode is hard work. I mean, let’s face it, how many times have you gone on vacation & realised you suddenly need a vacation from your vacation! 

Instead of starting back with all our studies in one go we break it down so that it can take 3-4 weeks before we are back at things full-force. Now, I’m not going to lie it’s a struggle for this Type-A planner gal who wants to tick boxes & march steadily forward seeing certain things accomplished each week, but here’s the secret most people aren’t aware of: starting back slowly means you’ll make more progress far more quickly then jumping in face first.

I know that sounds crazy & completely backwards, but it’s not. Think about it, you can gradually move your child back to a normal waking hour because you’re only adding in a few subjects at a time. You can accomplish two goals at one time & still be marching forward at a pace that works for your family.

In our home, the first week of school is all about getting back into routine. I have one child who wakes up at the same hour regardless, He can stay up until midnight on NYE & his wake-up time generally only changes by 5-30 minutes. The only time that kid sleeps in longer is if he’s sick & even then it’s not more then an extra hour. Our other child’s sleep time has always varied & as he’s going through a growth spurt, hormonal changes, & anxiety issues there are days his body needs extra sleep. Add long summer nights to the list & it gets kinda crazy with his sleep patterns.

In our first week back to business we work on getting anyone who’s been sleeping in up at a nominal time. In our home that’s between 830 & 840 when Mr S is about to head out the door to work. We tend to start school after we’ve waved him off & he’s out of sight. I accept that it’s a high chance my child will be pretty groggy on this day, & that’s totally cool because he only has to sit there & listen to me read a book & then attend to his math lesson. Depending on how much we read it can take an hour of time, maybe more maybe less.

By our second week we’re adding back in all our Language Arts components: Writing, Spelling, Assigned reading, & Grammar. Nothing flashy there, depending on how long the writing assignments are & how much time they devout to reading their new books it can add another 60-90 minutes to our day. 
In our third week we tend to add back history or science. History can take longer because we tend to spend a bit of time reading from various sources, but still we keep it to no more then an hour. Science is far quicker in our home so it tends to take 20-30 minutes on non-experiment days.

This particular year we added history in the first week alongside our math & it worked for us, & at the end of each of our first weeks back to school my youngest would ask what we were adding in next week & how much longer it would make his days. He was quite shocked to realise that his days didn’t get any longer despite adding more studies into them.

It’s really that simple.

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