How to Help Your Child Recharge After School

The start of school is a really exciting time for kids and families! You might expect your kids to move right from “school mode” into “home mode” at the end of the day.  But kindergartners just starting school (and even older students), need time after school to decompress, relax, and recharge. We have some suggestions about how to help your child make the most of after school time.

Instead of expecting that kids ate all their lunch

Give them a healthy snack after school or when they get home from afterschool activities. Kids don’t get a lot of time to eat lunch. Also, when given the choice between eating lunch or going to play outside, kids are likely going to choose playing. Plus, kids often need more fuel right after school even if they do eat a good lunch. If your child is arriving home close to dinnertime, consider something light like carrots or apple slices to help them while waiting for their meal.

Instead of thinking that your child will jump right into “home mode” after being at school all day….

Give them space and time to decompress when they get home. Kids work hard while at school to follow the rules, practice new social skills, engage with instruction, and generally be on their best behavior. This can be exhausting! Your child may seem grumpier or more tired after school because they can finally relax in a place they feel safe (home). Depending on your child’s personality and needs, they may like one (or more) of the following types of activities:

  • Energetic: Some kids may need to get the wiggles out and be physical after a long day of sitting still or following directions. This could include activities like: bike riding, jumping (trampoline or rope), basketball, gross motor activities on YouTube, or singing and playing along with favorite movement songs, like the Hokey Pokey. Being out in nature can also be a great way to help kids decompress after a long day of school.
  • Calming: Some kids may need more of a soft landing to help them transition home from school. This could be things like: drawing or coloring, reading books , playing with playdoh or Legos, or other activities that don’t have a lot of directions and rules. Or consider creating a peaceful corner with pillows and sensory activities to give kids space to relax.
  • Soothing: On really tough days, kids can practice taking deep, controlled belly breaths, or progressive muscle relaxation, and getting some one-on-one snuggle time with a caregiver. Consider creating a coping skills box so you and your child don’t have to come up with solutions in the moment.

Instead of asking them “how was school?” and expecting a detailed answer….

Ask more specific questions like, “what was the silliest thing at school today/did anything funny happen today?” or “What games did you play at recess/who did you hang out with at recess?” or “what was your best moment at school today/what or who made you smile today?” Either/or questions can be easier to answer and can get a conversation started. Try something like “Which did you like better today: math or reading?” Another way to get kids talking is to make comments before you ask questions, like “My favorite teacher was my math teacher because he always told us funny jokes”.

Instead of asking another question when they don’t answer your first…

Wait longer than you think you should after asking your child about their day. Kids need a longer time to process your questions and think. Try counting to 10 in your head after you ask a question or make a comment.

All of these tips can help your child ease into the transition from school to home. And you to find out more about what is happening at school. Check out our other posts for more great ideas on starting your back to school routine.

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Laura Wilson

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