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Kids thrive when they know what to expect, and schedules and routines are helpful for parents as well. Establishing set times for homework, dinner and bed keeps families on track and able to plan around busy extra-curricular and work schedules. A large master calendar with spaces for each family member's activities will help children remember homework due dates, practices and social activities. Parents will benefit, too. Older children can keep their own calendars as well; they can use desk calendars or carry school planners in their book bags. Giving a child limited responsibility for his own schedule will teach valuable time-management skills.
Organization is a challenge for many adults as well as children, so teaching kids these skills now will pay off both immediately and in the long run. Checklists are a great place to start; crossing items off a to-do list will give a child a sense of accomplishment, and remind him of what he has achieved as well as what he needs to do. Simply posting lists of household chores and homework assignments can be the first step to keeping a kid on track. Dry-erase boards are a helpful way to keep track of daily tasks, to-do lists and simple reminders.
Closet organizers with spaces for each day are a great way to start young children in planning for the week ahead. Kids can pick out clothes for each day of the week on Sunday, and place them in labeled slots; mornings go much more smoothly when there is no last-minute scrambling for socks or barrettes. A basket or bin in the entryway can serve as a depository for large items such as schoolbags and shoes; the same paper trays, folders and expanding file keepers adults use at the office can work just as well for homework organization.
Kids are messy; it's a fact of life. Convincing them to brush their teeth, wash their hands and scrub off whatever sticky substance they've gotten into can be frustrating at best. But there are ways to make it fun. Toothbrushes and toothpaste come in a variety of kids' favorite cartoon characters; letting them pick out their own may help them feel more involved in the process. Spinning toothbrushes or ones with blinking lights and even noises make brushing feel more like a game. Bath time can always be made fun with toys, and if traditional boats and rubber duckies don't cut it, try something different. Paints and crayons made especially for the tub let little ones draw on the tile and wash them right off when tub time is done. Conduct science experiments and find out what household objects float or sink. Blow bubbles or squirt shampoo from a water pistol or spray bottle. Almost any basic task can be made more fun with a little bit of childhood imagination and adult ingenuity.