Backpacks zigzag down the hall. One shoe here. One shoe there. Jackets strewn everywhere.

Is this the scene at your house as the school bus pulls away from the curb? Alyson at suggests you may need an “after school routine.”

Earlier this fall, I suggested in a column routines which your family could follow. By now, that routine should be established, but it was mainly for the morning. It is past time to work on a routine for after school.

Your children come home from a highly structured routine in school. They must follow directions, stay in line, and pay attention. They must do what their teacher says and what the principal watches for. They must not nudge, touch, or bully other kids. Although this routine is good for their academic development, it may not be what they need at home. However, there needs to be order for you to keep your sanity as they burst through the front door.

They should empty their backpacks as soon as they come in. Establish a corner or place on a low shelf where they put their empty backpacks, with a box nearby where they put the papers from school. They should put the important papers, or those which you must sign and return, on top unless you want your children to put those in a place where you can see them. They need to put papers with marks or comments from their teachers in that box also. It is necessary for you to keep track of their daily progress in order to give each child the help and encouragement they need. It is better for you to do this than a phone call or email from their teacher alerting you to their missed assignments or poor progress in a subject.

Washing hands has been especially important since Covid germs could be anywhere. Let older siblings help your younger children.

Snacks might be the next item in your family routine.

If your children are older, they may need to do chores next, such as making their bed or straightening their room, walking the dog, taking out the trash or emptying the dishwasher.

Your younger children may need a “movement break” before they do homework if their teacher assigns it. Children learn better when they have a chance to move their bodies. It improves their behavior and settles them down to do the concentrating they need to do homework.

All your children need quiet time after the demands of school. They need time to rest, think, and reflect on the happenings of the day. Maybe they need time to talk to you peacefully and without interruptions while you send other children to their rooms or outside.

If you give your children the gift of your time and encourage them to share their day, their friends, their fears, and cheers while they are young, they may confide in you as they grow older.

Make your home a retreat from a crazy world after each day’s school.

Southern Arizona resident Bette Mroz is a former teacher, reading specialist and principal. As a mother and grandmother, she continues to help her family learn. She can be contacted at

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