Friday, August 21, 2009

Conquer Back to School with Ease

Back-to-school time is a great time to get control of the chaos and help your family stay focused on the things that matter. Accountable Kids has six simple tips to help your family stay organized and have more fun together.
1) Take time to eat as a family - Sharing a meal is a great time for families to bond. “It really matters,” says Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families in Washington, D.C. She cites research that shows family meals, and time spent with family during those meals, impact the choices kids make and determine whether or not they stay out of trouble. “This needs to be uninterrupted time that you can be with one another and share your day.” Family meals create a great opportunity to check in with your kids and reconnect.
2) Establish regular sleep habits. – Stick to a strict and consistent bedtime schedule. Kids need 8 hours of sleep. If you kids have trouble settling down, you may establish a half hour quiet-time before bedtime. This is a perfect time to sit in bed and read, unwind, and relax before lights off. It also gives parents a little break to prepare for the next day. If your child has trouble getting up, try making changes to their alarm clock. Sometimes routine sounds can be tuned out easily, so exchange their clock with yours or set the clock to a different radio channel. Another idea is to place the alarm clock away from the bed. A fun back-to-school gift is the Clocky alarm clock that has wheels. This exciting wakeup call can roll off the table and under the bed once it goes off, forcing kids to get up. You can find this product at:
3) Nightly Check - Mornings are hands-down the most chaotic time during the school day. Parents often find themselves running around making meals, finding missing shoes, recovering lost books, and struggling to make it out the door on time. Prepare the night before by coming together for five minutes each night. Take this time to work together and communicate schedules for the next day. If you really want to get organized, give your children a place to put their school items. You may set up plastic bins with your kid’s names on the drawers. Each child has a handy place to put their morning necessities. Your morning will be much less hectic with your night crew on the job.
4) Weekly Planning – Take time to come together once a week for your family meeting. This is a great time to celebrate victories, coordinate schedules, solve problems, disperse earnings, and unite together as a family. Weekly meetings don’t need to be long and can incorporate a fun game or treat. Consistent meetings create structure and harmony within the home and turn problems into learning opportunities. This is a great time to start new commitments and start the week fresh. You may want to use a family calendar to keep track of schedules discussed at your meeting. This helps everyone know and anticipate the weekly events.
5) Establish Positive Study Habits – If students sequester themselves in their rooms to concentrate on homework, that strategy can backfire, Zuckerman says, especially if they have too many distractions, such as TVs and video games in their rooms. Instead, institute quite hours in the house and have children do their homework the old-fashioned way; at the kitchen or dining room table. “As long as it’s relatively quiet, no TV or radio blaring nearby, there’s no reason they shouldn’t do their homework in a public room,” Zuckerman says. “It gives parents a glimpse into what they are doing and if they need help with their work.” You can even help your kids function at their peak with small snacks or short breaks.
6) Set Clear Family Rules – Rules are essential in order for any family to operate smoothly. Back-to-school time is a perfect time to make sure everyone is on the same page and working together. Parents may establish the basic family rules in the beginning, but it works best when children contribute to this process. Setting clear boundaries can be beneficial to everyone. Remember that family rules are established not simply for the benefit of any one person, but for the good of the entire family.

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