A few weeks ago, I wrote about taking the time to ask questions to check the comprehension of the children’s nightly reading. However for most families, this is only one of many activities that needs to occur after school.
With the more children attending school, the greater the number of after school activities that we have to juggle! Over the years I have developed a few strategies to help make this time easier for everyone.
1. No after school activities for prep children in first term.
Preps are generally very tired first term. Tired prep = emotional child, so the less for them to do after school, I find the better.
2. Sharing the driving.
Once children has settled into their new after school activities, I have found it incredibly helpful to find another family with whom you can share the drop offs and pick ups with.
3. Playing in the park.
I have written previously about how with subsequent children, I find that I take them to the park to play less often than I did with my first children. Training grounds for cricket and football are usually always located near a playground. I can make the most of these opportunities by playing with the children at the playgrounds.
4. Playing Games.
As noted in my post on items I keep in my everyday bag, I keep a pack of cards on hand at all times. If we are attending an after school activity for one child at an indoor space, then it can provide an opportunity to sit with the smaller children and play cards. Pencils and paper or a colouring books also work well too and you can make the most of the time you have together.
5. Limiting the activities.
Children can often overestimate their energy levels. As the adult I need to set boundaries on the number of after school activities that they participate in. Kathy Walker recommends only 1 -2 activities for children aged 4 -8 years old. This is a number that we have is manageable for our family.
6. Dinner first.
As the children get older, the after school activities begin to start later. The latest start we have this term is 5.30pm and our latest finish time is 6.30pm. I have found that this is much too late for the smaller children (prep and under) to eat dinner. So on the days when we have late finishes at after school activities, I swap the afternoon tea and dinner time around.
When the children come home from school, they will just have a piece of fruit and then I will serve their evening meal at around 4.30pm. I them pack a healthy snack (fruit and rice cakes etc) for them to have on the way home from the after school activities. This change has two advantages, firstly the children actually eat all of their dinner and secondly I don’t have hungry as well as tired children!
7. Or Dinner prepared.
If you read this blog a little bit you will know that I am a massive fan of menu planning! When I am constructing the menu plan for the week, I make sure that I factor in after school activities. On these nights I make sure that I have something that can be prepared earlier in the day or a very quick meal.
8. Completing Homework.
Encouraging the children to establish the routine of doing homework on the nights that they don’t have after school activities.
It is important to stop every so often and check that the children are actually enjoying the after school activities that they are involved in. We keep it simple for the children – they can choose what it is they would like to do, but if they start an activity they must see it through to the end of the term or season, which ever is applicable.
10. Booking After School Sessions Early.
For after school activities like swimming, where I have a number of children across different skill levels, so that you can try and obtain the most suitable time slots (that is having all children in the pool at the one time! ) it is important to book or rebook as early as possible for the next term.
What other tips can you offer, for making the after school activity time easier?