When I tell parents to implement a schedule, they often say things like, “we have a schedule” or “it’s obvious” or “we all know what to do”.
I always respond gracefully to these skeptics by saying that schedules give children and families a reference to look at that is concrete and non-negotiable.
Let me explain this further: when the schedule comes out of your mind onto a piece of paper, everyone is able to see what is required of them, what they are expected to do and when. It becomes more than just ‘Mom is nagging me to do my homework’. When it’s homework time, it’s actually homework time because the schedule said so.
Here are some general rules for making a schedule that works:
1. Prepare a schedule for each weekday and weekend day. This does not mean that every moment of every day needs to have something educational or productive planned. The goal is that children will learn to differentiate and allocate appropriate time blocks for homework, free time, bath time, bedtime routine, suppertime, etc. Furthermore, I highly recommend that free time should be scheduled at least once per day so that kids and adults are able to unwind and just be themselves.
2. Make a schedule for each member of your family and involve them in the process. Ask your children to be involved in figuring out what they actually do each day after school and on weekends. Involving them in the process also helps them become more accountable for their own behavior, especially with homework completion, since they will have a part in deciding when their homework time will occur.
3. Make a schedule for yourself too! By making a schedule for yourself, you will be able to model the required behavior of ‘schedule-following’ to your family. They will be happy that you are not exempt from the household rules!
4. Blame the schedule! When your child is having a homework tantrum, make sure to point to the schedule and remind them that they helped to make it. Also, tell them that it’s not your fault that they have to do homework, it’s on the schedule and that everyone in the family has to do what is on their schedule.
5. Remember to include these time slots in your child’s schedule: snack time, homework, free time and bed time routine!