By Sean Ayres
When it comes to building school routines for children, it can become all too easy to start well and deteriorate through the school term. Craig Hunter from Rehoboth Christian College joined Bec on Mornings to discuss how to keep the rhythm going.
“It’s all about systems,” says Craig.
“It’s about starting well and then thinking how we can get our kids to help us?”
“If we can get them to take responsibility with us, that’s always the key. Otherwise we get busy, we get tired.”
“Life does get busy and it throws a few curve balls.”
To guide him through building routines as a parent, Craig draws inspiration from Matthew 11:28, which in The Message version reads, “come to me and I will teach you the unforced rhythms of my grace.”
“As parents we set the tone in our families, we set the culture. If we rely on God to help us, we can ask him for a culture of peace, order, warmth and safety,” says Craig.
“We can’t blame our kids for culture, we can’t blame anyone else. We set that.”
Where to start
A strong starting place for building school routines for children is to develop responsible night and bedtime routines.
“If we can do something the night before like uniforms, lunches and getting ready for school, it takes the pressure off in the morning.”
Craig advises making sure children in early childhood get to bed between 7pm and 7:30 and reading to children before bed. School days are deep learning for children, with six full hours of learning new things.
“Read to your kids each night and get them to bed early. Then they are fresh for the next day.”
“Early isn’t 10 o’clock.”
Two other issues that Craig raises are cleaning teeth regularly, and limiting technology.
“Forty-percent of kids don’t clean their teeth regularly, so we’ve got to build that into their routines.”
Limiting technology brings its own challenges, with boredom taking over in its absences. As an alternative, it can be helpful for children to get physical and play outside.
“Free play outside, even if it’s just 20 minutes, gives a chance to wind down.”
A full ban on all technology can be difficult for many families so controlling use to a defined 20 or 30-minute period can be another solution.
“Technology’s not evil, it’s a tool.”
“The power of routine is that we’re in charge. We set the tone and that’s key.”
To start immediately on building new routines, Craig says the best way is to get together and set direction.
“Get around the table and be intentional about what you want to create around your own home.”