Establishing a Good After-School Routine

By Dr Raymond Huntington

When it comes to homework and studying, having a plan helps students maximize their time and get more done. After a long day at school, many children want nothing more than to come home and toss the backpack aside, but Ray Huntington of the Huntington Learning Center says that parents should encourage children to embrace a routine to minimize stress. “Having a set schedule after school sounds rigid, but really, it prevents students from unknowingly wasting their time,” Huntington says. “With a reliable routine, students are more productive overall and they also learn to take ownership of their schedules.”

Huntington offers these suggestions for parents who want to help their child establish a successful after-school routine:

Have your child take the lead. One of the biggest benefits of creating a routine is that it empowers children to take responsibility for their daily to-dos. Sit down together to develop an after-school schedule that your child finds workable and in tune to his or her preferences (of when to study and when to enjoy downtime, for example).

Design with your child in mind. A routine will be more effective if it is created with your child’s input. Think about things like when your child is the most focused and what type of environment works best for your child to study (with siblings or alone? In his or her room or in the kitchen?). Pay attention to what works and stick to it.

Put the routine on display. Like the teacher does in the classroom, set expectations at home each day. Hang the after-school routine in a visible location—consider buying a white board for the kitchen or somewhere similar—and have your child look at it before leaving for school and as soon as he or she gets home. It should be detailed enough to keep your child on task, but flexible to incorporate free time. For example, a student in elementary school could follow a routine such as:

            Empty backpack, prep for homework                         3:30-3:45

            Wash hands, snack                                                      3:45-4:00

            Homework                                                                  4:00-4:30

            Practice piano                                                             4:30-4:45

            Basketball practice                                                      5:00-6:00

            Dinner, cleanup                                                          6:00-7:00

            Reading, any other studying                                        7:00-7:30

            Bedtime prep                                                               7:30-8:00

            Free time                                                                     8:00-8:30

            Lights out                                                                    8:30                                        

 Incorporate organization. At the end of each homework session, your child should take a few minutes to neaten his or her workspace, put away all supplies, check off any completed to-dos and mentally prepare for the next school day. Organization will help your child pick up where he or she left off at the next study session, minimizing ramp-up time and maximizing actual work time.

 As a parent, your job is to help your child acquire the study skills and independence to be an effective learner. “Routines at home teach children to be self-starters, take responsibility for what they have to accomplish and rely on themselves, not others, to make those things happen,” says Huntington. “By encouraging and upholding a routine and system of organization at home, you’re ingraining those essentials into your child, which will benefit him or her over the long term.”

About Huntington

Huntington is the tutoring and test prep leader.  Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams.  Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards.  Founded in 1977, Huntington’s mission is to give every student the best education possible.  Learn how Huntington can help at For franchise opportunities please visit   

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