It’s back-to-school like never before. For so many of us, this September is like no other. Instead of driving our kids to the classroom, we’re walking them to the kitchen table, trusting them to work in their bedrooms, or dropping them into the playpen.
Now more than ever, parents are being asked to take their children’s education into their own hands and be parent, teacher, babysitter, chef and sports coach all in one. Move over, Sisyphus!
This week, I want to provide some helpful back-to-school tips for those of you who are balancing work, home-life and educating your kids to make this journey as joyful as possible – without sacrificing quality.
Let’s start with the back-to-school workspace:
How and *where* your kids are learning
Amid so much change and chaos, it’s essential to create a semblance of school. Take the time to create an organized and effective workplace for your kids to go everyday. Some tips to accomplish this are:
• Make sure your child’s workspace is not a source of distraction. If you have them set up at the kitchen table or in the living room, where other family members are working or talking, their “workspace” could become counterproductive for all parties. When possible, choose a quiet space away from the biggest hub of activity in the house, but close enough to ensure that work time is being respected.
• Go beyond the desk. Organize school supplies by subject and, if possible, create cubbies, folders or drawers for each class. If you invest the time to ensure that all aspects of study are accounted for and have a set place, your child will feel supported and know that their school hours have value.
• Get rid of clutter. A cluttered home makes for a cluttered field. Make sure your child cleans their workspace at the end of each day and prepares for the next day to come. This creates a sense of consistency and responsibility for their workstation.
TIP: Get your kids on a back-to-school schedule
Would you believe me if I told you that there are specific times in the day when your body does certain things best?
As so many of us navigate distance learning at home with our kids, it’s essential to pay attention to the rhythm of their daily schedules and create a pattern that works best for them and that optimizes their studies.
There’s a book I love called, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, by Daniel Pink. This book explains the science behind timing our days in order to create positive, productive rhythms in our daily lives. I’ve found strategic timing to be a huge help in my own life – for instance, I wake up early enough to go for a morning run, no matter what. This early burst of exercise gets my endorphins flowing, and makes me feel focused, alert and prepared for the day ahead.
Here are a few rules of thumb to try:
• Make sure your children get enough sleep, and wake up at the same time every school day, to set a regular body clock. Consistency is key to creating a sustainable schedule!
• Approach “tough” subjects and strategic meetings in the morning when cortisol and blood sugar are elevated from breakfast.
• Try not to give rigorous work between 1 and 3, when cortisol and blood sugar drop.
• Parcel time for daily exercise. Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood or a game of soccer, scheduling exercise will allow an outlet for physical expression and break up the school day without disrupting focus, the way TV does.
• Get creative at night. The hours after dinner are a fabulous time to work on projects that require a little more creativity or thinking outside-the-box. Try a daily crafting session or extracurricular like music or art.
Back-to-school snack hack – you’ll want to save this recipe!
Food is a huge part of how we time our days, and an important tool in keeping our kids healthy!
As you establish your daily schedule for distance learning, be sure to make snack and lunchtime a distinct and centering part of the day.
• Create a lunchbox scenario, or go to a different place in your home to eat lunch. If your kids are studying in the living room, use the porch or the kitchen as your “cafeteria.”
• Get kids involved in choosing their weekly menu. Make assembly-friendly foods that they can help prepare or even make themselves.
• Involve your kids in food prep – make your snacks for the week as a family and store for easy access.
This simple snack is perfect for the school season in the classroom or at home.
Wildatarian Blueberry Applesauce Bars
Expeller cold pressed canola oil for greasing pan
2 cups oat flour
2 cups quinoa flour
2 tablespoons aluminum-free baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup honey
2 cups soy milk
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten (if there is an egg allergy, use egg substitute such as Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer)
1 1/2 to 2 cups dried blueberries (I like Trader Joe’s dried wild blueberries)
1 cup chopped almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 11×7” baking dish or pan. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add honey, milk, applesauce, vanilla and eggs. Fold in blueberries. Pour into prepared pan and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Open oven and top the batter with chopped almonds. Bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cut into squares and serve warm with nut butter, honey or Earth Balance spread.
Photo from here, with thanks.