Kevin Doyle, over at Toys Advisors Blog has written a great guest post today about balancing. It’s tough with kids but especially with boys, if like mine, love to keep their heads buried in video games. Check out what Kevin has to say…..
Do you stand looking at the calendar and dread that awful date when school starts? Do you stand and recall the seemingly, interminable arguments that arise around school, homework, sports, computer games and hanging out? Does the incessant bowed head over a play station or tablet drive you nuts when you know there are school projects to be done?
Did you look into the bright eyes of your young son and know that there is an intelligent, curious being inside that fun-loving body and yearn for a time when he simply did as you said instead of rolling his eyes when you tried to get him out of play mode and into work mode?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then read on, perhaps we can give you some idea of how to balance that schedule, so there is time for everything.
Draw up a schedule.
The first place to start is to have a schedule to which the entire family can stick. In our busy lives, it pays to have things laid out, so everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing, what their responsibilities are and when there is time to have fun.
The place to start is to give everybody a notebook with the days of the week on each page and the day broken up into 15-minute intervals. Ask everyone to take time in the week to jot down what they have been doing and how long it took them. In this way, you can show your boys that doing chores does not take for-EVER but take little time and make things so much better for everyone.
Get everyone around the dinner table and on a large sheet of paper draw up a schedule using input from the whole family. Record the time for chores, the time school, time for homework, and make sure there is time for play. Children will be more likely to stick to the schedule if you include them when drawing it up.
Be reasonable about the time set aside for each activity. It is pointless to say that a young child must do homework for three hours. They will not concentrate for that length of time, and you will end up with a recalcitrant child and many hours of fighting on your hands. Set time periods commensurate with the child’s age so that they learn to enjoy learning new things and don’t become bored or despondent.
Make time for play.
It is very important that children see that there is time for fun in their lives, but it needs to be balanced with their responsibilities. So, when drawing up your schedule, block in the time at school, but don’t put homework immediately after school.
Allow a period for a sport to be played or for play and then block in some time for homework. Again, after homework find time for more play. In this way, children develop an understanding that responsibilities must be taken care of, but they can be balanced with fun times.
Fun can be educational too!
If your son is struggling at school, find ways to make his fun time educational too. For example, if he is struggling with math then find some games for his play station or tablet that will help him with his math problems. If you do not have electronic means of playing, then look around for educational toys that you can use to help him overcome some of his problems at school. Obviously, this supposes that there is no medical reason that he is struggling.
If your son is a little older, use his hobbies as a basis for helping him overcome some problem areas. Math is needed to calculate batting averages, touchdowns or yards gained, as well as calculating the cost of costumes for a play or working out the money saved by reading on an electronic device versus buying paper books.
All of these things can be made fun while helping him to understand where math fits into the world. There are many examples on the internet, so spend some time browsing and get some ideas on how to make his fun time educational as well.
Teach your son to multitask.
Take the time to show your son how seemingly wasted time can be used to achieve his goals. Is he sitting in the back-seat while being driven to soccer practice? Perhaps he could read that book on which he has to submit a report? Another idea is to get him to write out facts for a test on flash cards and take them with him in the car. He can learn the facts and you can make a game of testing him on the answers on the way home.
Set boundaries and don’t deviate.
To become responsible adults, children must learn that they have rights but all rights come with responsibilities. They need to be guided towards an understanding that at this young age school is their most important responsibility and while they have the right to a good education they have the responsibility to apply themselves to that education.
Applying themselves to that responsibility is a top priority, but there is time set aside for fun. When the schedule says it is time for homework then games, sports, and other distractions are turned off, and we apply ourselves to work.
Emphasize that removing the game box is NOT a punishment but a favor. Removing the temptation will help them to concentrate on the task at hand. A small treat after work goes a long way to making that task more bearable so break out the cookies after homework.
Teaching your son to set up and keep to a schedule will not be a walk in the park, but it is an important skill and life lesson that he will need to learn.
It is vital that children develop discipline and self-control as one day they will be off to college and into the working world where these life skills will make a huge difference to how they respond.
I am Kevin, co-founder of Toys Advisors blog. I have a lovely family with my wife Anna, my son Tom and my daughter Jane. I spend most of time with my family, I learn and share about parenting and DIY.