Starting Each Day… Thinking about the End of the Day
My family is 4 weeks into the school year and mid-term grades are being posted this week. I don’t know what your situation is, but our school day schedule can be chaotic. I have five children. Three of them attend school 5 days a week all day (2 different schools), 2 children attend a hybrid program that is in person 2 days a week with online instruction 3 days, and the last child attends classes 5 mornings a week at a technical school. Did you follow all of that??? I would be lying if I told you we are always organized, on time, and knowing whether we were coming or going!
I am so grateful for grace and compassion in this season of continual change! Seems like every day, I try to give both of those freely! I may fail some days, but I sure try. One thing that helps my family is having a predictable schedule or daily agenda. As a parent and OT, I encourage you to model this one important life skill:
I will be the first to admit this hasn’t always been my strong suit. It’s something I have had to work on and model with my children. Following a schedule is so important for all of us especially now. We take comfort and feel safe in knowing what comes next!
What works best for my crew is to let them know what to expect all day. We wake up and start thinking about what’s next…and actually what we will do after school too. This structure is helpful for ALL of us. All of my children have a printed schedule of their school day in a folder, with various layers of strategies to support them (e.g., some with times for class periods, some have icons to remind them which class/folder is which period, and some are color coded with subjects written out). One of my children has visual schedules for smaller chunks of her day as well (morning and evening routines, chores, after school schedule, bus or car rider, etc.). For my 2 with hybrid schedules, they stay on the school period schedule even though they are home to ensure they get their work done. Schedules are a tool that helps them to be independent with many school and home activities.
When the schools transitioned to virtual in the spring due to COVID-19, the one thing that held our family together was our schedule. With the therapists, counselors, special education teachers, and classroom teachers meeting virtually with my children, they needed the daily schedule as much as I did to keep all the appointments all straight. Following a schedule is a skill that we now rely on daily. The daily schedules are especially helpful for transitions from play to work activities and providing built in breaks. This week, a dear friend of mine from the United Kingdom sent a message mentioning she shared a recent PATINS TV feature on Visual Schedules with the family of one of her students, which inspired me to share this resource again and the success of using schedules in our family.Check out the PATINS YouTube channel for more ideas and resources. The PATINS Project Staff supports all Indiana public and charter schools and can help you create the high tech, low tech or no tech solutions to help your students access their education, including creating visual schedules.
It's so helpful to share what is working for your family this school year and I have no doubt it will be beneficial to others as well! Managing schedules is a life long skill, one that I'm continually refining myself. Thank you for sharing this peek into the Benfield family home.