Education / Inspiration / School / Speech Therapy
Where did the summer go? It seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating the end of one school year and here we are, already starting another and trying to get everyone back into the swing of things. By now, you & your kids have probably adjusted your sleep and eating to fit back into the school routines. And, more noticeably, the calendars are filling fast with after school activities, family time, sports, hobbies, and hopefully some free time in there somewhere…or maybe not.
In trying to keep track of it all, the calendar is one of the oldest and still most important tools in your arsenal. With the advent of technology, there are even more options than ever before. Whether you use paper or digital, the key word here is “centralized”. Keeping track of work schedules, school schedules, speech therapy and doctor’s appointments, practice, games, tutoring, school programs, volunteer work, etc all in one place helps you know when there will be a break for a family visit to your favorite Hawaii beach!
- Use different colors for each person. A whiteboard calendar with large squares and multiple markers is flexible and perfect for the kitchen, if you prefer the “paper” method. If you are making plans on the go and want to update your calendar the same way, a shared calendar either through Google, iPhone or other platforms, means you have the latest info at hand, without waiting to get home and write it down.
- For families with younger children and lots of activities, mark the beginning of a calendar entry with an “M”, “D” or other initial to designate whether Mom, Dad, or another family member is handling transportation. If you have neighbors who share carpool responsibilities, mark those down as well.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. That is not surprising advice coming from a speech therapy practice, but it really helps to remove at least some of the stress inherent in a busy school year. Or, at least some of the disagreements. Text, email, phone, Facebook – utilize all the tools at your disposal on a daily basis, and if it’s more effective, schedule a weekly or monthly family meeting (pizza helps!) to get everyone on the same page.
When I was little, my mom made all of my meals. My jobs in the morning were to get dressed, brush my hair so Mom could fix it, brush my teeth after breakfast, and don’t forget my backpack and lunchbox. As I grew older, my responsibilities grew. I had to start doing my own hair, getting my own breakfasts (cereal isn’t that hard) and eventually make my own lunches.
What did I learn from that? In order for a home to run smoothly, whether it’s a busy season or a slow season, everyone needs to pitch in to the best of their ability. Based on your child’s age and ability, give them responsibilities and encourage them to contribute to the family. It teaches them life lessons that will last a lifetime.
Don’t forget – not all things need to be done in the morning before school! Teach your kids to spend a little time the afternoon or evening before getting papers / homework, clothes and food ready for the next day – it will save all of you a lot of stress.
Filing: Each year, our kids bring us wonderful pictures, homework assignments and other treasures. When the refrigerator gets full, where do they go? Plan ahead with a basket or box for each kiddo in the kitchen or living room. As they bring items home, change out what is on the fridge, put it on the box and keep your fridge display fresh. When the boxes or baskets get full, sift through them together with your kids and choose the favorite pieces to keep permanently.
Speed cleaning: Keeping the house clean may seem impossible, so make it fun! Challenge the family to speed clean and see how fast the house can sparkle. Come up with creative rewards for the one who does the fastest and most thorough job. Hide toys / treats or even treasure hunt clues throughout their “zone” of responsibility. If they find them all, they did a thorough job!
Cooking: Cooking ahead and freezing is a great way to reduce stress and a great time to get the kids involved in meal planning and cooking. Let them experiment with flavors and ingredients – who knows, you may have a budding cordon bleu chef!
From all of us at Speech Solutions Hawaii, we are wishing you and your family a school year full of fun and aloha!