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CounselingNH E-Zine, Issue #011 School Time Structure At Home
September 23, 2008

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September 23, 2008

Volume 1, Issue #011 School Time Structure At Home

A Note From Jim

Feature Article: School Time Structure At Home

A Note From Jim:

Hi, Jim here. This E-zine is the next article on the topics of parenting. Last time we discussed children returning to school. This article discusses families adjustin to the school year.


School Time Structure At Home by James Foster

Now that the school year has started parents find themselves innundated with competing schedules, deadlines and activites. An air traffic controller would be overwhelmed. We find that there is an interactive effect between demands and structure. In other words, when an increase in activity, productivity or performance is expected of a person, an increase of structure is required in order for that person to appropriately respond. Some adults increase their structure internally through becoming more organized, prioritized and focused. Children and many adults on the other hand don't possess the ability to simply adjust internally, rather external changes in structure are necessary in order to develop a higher sense of internal structure. These external changes look like list, schedules and time management studies.

Please be aware of this concept about structure while you are developing it. Structure refers to the predictable, consistent, reliable expectations that we have for ourselves, others and the world around us. There is rarely the abscence of structure. It is variably impossible to live without it. We may not be aware of it, in charge of it or purposely maintaining it but it exists. When we are designing school year structure then for our children and for ourselves, we are not creating structure. We are simply changing it and initially taking charge of it or asking our children to monitor it themselves.

When designing school time structure for and with children some basic principles apply. Children need limited choices. Their investment in activities will increase with their ability to choose but some choices don't belong on the table. Children for example, may choose which subject to study first but generally are not given the option of not studying. They may choose which sport to play but showing up for games and practices is expected.

Children need forwarning, transitional time and frequent rest periods. They may need time to be awake in the morning before they get up. They may need time to respond to an instruction or direction after its given. When engaged in a particular activity it takes children a few minutes to transition to another activity especially when this requires an increase or decrease in physical activity. This explains why most classroom behavior problems are encountered first thing in the morning, after recess or after lunch. Children as well as many adults require frequent rest periods during times of concentration practice or focused activities. This rest period during homework time doesn't mean two hours of outdoor play, more likely it means five to ten minutes of an alternate activity such as socializing or taking a walk.

Intellectual or academic learning requires a high degree of attention, concentration and focus. The child's ability to learn and perform decreases with fatigue. The implication here is that studying, learning and homework in general should not be attempted at the end of the day when the child's energy is most depleted. All learning and acheivement involves some level of frustration but if frustration becomes excessive the child's goal will simply become that of changing the structure rather than working within it. A carefully designed schedule of study, homework and rest period activities will support the child's academic performance. There is no stress reliever greater than being prepared. Preparation for the days events should occur the night before. The structure designed by parents for children during the school year is a process of guidance, limits, redirection, encouragement and support. It is not the process of the parent's doing the work for the child. The long term inherent goal of providing structure for children is that they will internalize it, make it their own and be able to draw on it later in life as adults.

Until next time,

Jim Foster

_________________________________________________________________ Recommendations:Parent Success Program What a great way to begin the school year. Our Parent Success Program is a skills based course in parenting. The course covers everything from birth to adulthood. It is a discussion based class where parents are able to talk about challenges that they are encountering along their parenting journey. Parents need a place to discuss, learn and be encouraged. The more involved a parent is increases the liklihood of raising happy and well adjusted children. Our goal is to help,guide and nurture parents so they in turn will confidently help, guide and nurture their children. Please call our office to inquire about your Parent Success Program.(603)668-7744. Parents may attend any or all of the classes. Please see the curriculum in the parenting section of our website

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, so long as you include this complete blurb with it: Entrepreneur and 30 year expert James Foster publishes the bi-weekly CounselingNH Ezine in the areas of family, marriage, relationships and parenting. If you are interested in quality information, tips and resources of ways to enhance your family, marriage, relationships and parenting visit this content rich site at

All the Best,

Jim Foster

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