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Young mom working from home with child painting

ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Under COVID-19, schedules have been altered quite a bit to say the least. With the summer break now over, schedules for those with children are becoming even more altered. Many parents are now having to juggle working from home and also helping their children with online schooling. While this can be stressful, having a realistic and sustainable schedule in place can help immensely.

Mimic a School Schedule

Jessica Williams, an Alabama Extension Alabama 4-H regional agent, said children are used to following a structured schedule at school. Having one in place at home can get them in the right mindset to learn.

“Teachers implement a set routine as part of their classroom management system,” Williams said. “The children know what to do when they arrive to school and what their parents and teachers expect of them throughout the day.”

Setting these same expectations at home can ensure that children will complete their coursework. Williams warns parents to not underestimate their child’s ability to follow a schedule.

“Even pre-K students understand rules and consequences and can follow a routine if they know what is expected of them,” she said.

Creating a Schedule

Children are not expected to do schoolwork seven hours each day at school, so parents should not expect them to do it at home. As Williams says, that is an unattainable expectation.

“Although children may be at school for that amount of time each day, their schedule includes other activities,” Williams said. “Students have many brain breaks, such as dancing, changing classes, lunch time, physical education and elective courses.”

When parents set out to make their child’s new school schedule, it should include mealtime, academic time, physical time and social time.

  • Mealtime. Children will eat all day long if they are allowed to do so. To limit this, set a schedule for when they can eat. In the schedule, have a set time for children to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also, allow for one or two snack breaks throughout the day.
  • Academic Time. According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, elementary students should commit one to two hours a day to academic work, middle school students two to three hours and high school students three to four hours. However, this does not mean that parents should expect their elementary school age child to sit and work for two consecutive hours each day.
  • Physical Time. Time designated for physical activity is an essential component of the daily schedule. The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 engage in 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.
  • Social Time. Research shows that social and emotional learning are just as important as academics. If children are using their mobile devices for video chatting or texting their friends more than usual, remember it is healthy for them to have this social time.

More Information

While dealing with this new normal can be difficult, having a well-established schedule in place is a great way to help both parents and students. More information on this subject is in Coronavirus: Maintaining Sustainable Schedules. For additional information on this or other home and family topics, visit www.aces.edu.

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