Classroom Management and Household Management: Schedule and Procedures

In this series, I hope to describe ways that the classroom is not unlike the home, and how treating it similarly has helped me not lose my mind completely.  But I wouldn’t mind your help! If you have a question on how to run your “home room” with more structure, suggestions on how you do the same, or just an observation, feel free to leave a note for me in the comments!

In a classroom, there has to be an understanding of how things are supposed to go. Each classroom has a procedure for certain things, from bathroom breaks to passing out papers. It prevents small things from becoming obnoxious speed bumps to learning. A daily schedule that has little variation helps as well – it allows for students and teachers alike to know what to expect, and how to maneuver throughout the day. Procedures and schedules help the teacher to know what to prepare for and help everyone know how to manage their time wisely.

It wasn’t hard for me to fall into a schedule at school  – it’s necessary, and you work things out with other teachers.  It’s just common sense really, something you do without even thinking about eventually. Procedures for the small things are the same way –they’re just second nature in the classroom.  At home, which is naturally a more relaxed environment, it’s not always the case.

Adults at home do naturally fall into a routine; you know yours without even thinking about it. Children behave better and are more comfortable with a set routine, yet for some reason they are frequently working to upend it. That’s why I highly recommend creating a schedule and implementing procedures, and cling to them like a lifeboat. Here’s why…

When certain things happen in a set order daily (or at least weekly) children come to know what to expect, and like the students I mentioned above, they can prepare themselves accordingly. It also means that there are SO many fewer arguments over the small stuff because ‘that’s just the way it is.’ We wash our hands before lunch, naptime is immediately after lunch, snacktime after that (around 3ish when school is over). We wash our hands after using the potty (unless you only pee, and you’re not going to go eat something – then it’s ok to use the sanitizer… it’s better than nothing when they think they’re going to miss something). The kids know all of these things, and to them that’s just the way it is.

Right now, the two year old is beginning to protest naptime after lunch. He’s starting to get old enough where he still needs at least a short nap, but could keep himself awake if he needed/wanted to badly enough. Without one, though, he’s a mess by the end of the day. He’s proclaimed “No, I no need nap… I watch TV instead!” or “I nap, then get right up!” Which means that he lays there for about 3 minutes, then tries to sneak around the house and pester his sisters. Of course, this isn’t allowed – it’s naptime. His sisters, if they’re home, are having ‘quiet time’ reading, coloring, playing quietly, or getting an hour of TV/iPad time, and he can have that… if he sleeps first. These are the rules. I don’t cave in because he’s not ENTIRELY sleepy yet, or because he throws a fit, or keeps getting out of bed. Even if he gets up five times, he goes back down, because that’s the procedure.

Now I’m not saying that the kids are CONSTANTLY trying to get out of washing their hands, refusing to sit when it’s snacktime, or throwing fits during naptime. I don’t have to fight them all the time – it just happens every once in awhile when the little ones reach a stage of trying to test their bounds. “A little rebellion is good, healthy even!” (Name that movie!) Eventually, the two year old WILL be allowed to just have quiet time, and he’s testing to see if that time is now (dear Lord no NO no… not yet). In fact, they’re not constantly testing me BECAUSE they know that this is the order in which things go, and these are the procedures they’re expected to follow. I don’t change things up on them without giving at least a bit of notice.

Sometimes it’s a pain for me to stick to the routine, when it would just be easier to let them eat lunch/snack whenever they wanted to, or caved in to every request, but I would pay for it later if they knew they could wear me down. A little ‘stick-to-it’-ive-ness goes a long way in the end. It’s taken me two years with these kids to really get a good schedule that works, and even then it bends and flexes with the seasons, but it’s never been completely uprooted. Even on the days that we have a grand outing that takes the whole day, I still try and keep elements of the schedule in the day. This is also helpful when that day ends and they need naps/snacks/quiet time/whatever. They get the sense that ‘this is what is happening now, no arguments,’ and the rest of the day goes peaceably. Having these procedures in place make the day go by a million times easier.

What about you? What does your schedule look like?  Do you have one? Or do you have kids that buck the system no matter what? What do you do about that? Let me know in the comments!

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