After-school Routines - What Works?

Updated on September 21, 2012
K.F. asks from Wayne, PA
16 answers

I'm wondering what a good after-school routine is to allow kids time for playing, homework, snack, etc. What has worked well with your family? My kids are young now, but if you have insight on routine for any age, I'd appreciate the advice. Thanks!

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answers from Dallas on

we walk TO school, but i pick up b/c i don't wanna deal with the confusion that may ensue if i needed to pick them up(weather) and they are waiting at the school corner for me to walk... i have a snack in the car that's not messy for them to eat on the way home. we do homework at the kitchen table after a quick restroom/hand washing... after "written" homework, they each read for 30 minutes in their room, then they're free to play until dinner. we have swim or gymnastics every night but tuesdays, so after dinner it's change and go!



answers from Wausau on

My kids arrive home from school at 3:15 and 3:50. We started the homework routine in kindergarten. My kids are now in 7th and 5th and the good study habits are well ingrained.

They have a snack if they are hungry, then do homework right away. Fortunately, they are not the type to drag their feet and whine about homework, so it goes quickly. They both like to get the work done first thing so that it isn't hanging over their heads all night.

They have karate three nights a week at 5:20. We eat late, usually 6pm or 7pm depending on the day. Lights out is 9pm. They get plenty of downtime to play.

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answers from New York on

my kids are 8. they come home at 2:30. they have a healthy snack, after they change into lounge clothes. then we do homework. then they play until dinnertime, which is around 5. again play some more. 7pm starts our bedtime routine, in bed by 7:30

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I found that giving them half an hour of down time when they get home...snack & play time. Then homework starts, followed by dinner and bath time. Any time after that should be quieter play, reading, family game....something like that but whatever works for your family.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

We have had the exact same schedule for YEARS. My kids are 16 (spec needs), 12 and 9. They get home after school about 3:30 and immediately have a snack. Homework starts at 4:00. After homework they can watch tv, play wii or computer until dinner which is around 5:30. After dinner in the summers we swim (cuz its HELL hot here) or in the winter we walk to the park or ride our bikes or play board games (wed night) or friday is family movie night. Then showers start at 7:30 and then they are in their rooms at 8pm. They don't have to go to sleep, but they have to stay in there. They will listen to music, draw, write stories, color, play, read, etc. But they STAY in there. They put themselves to sleep and I check on them before I go to bed. At 8pm, my and hubs time starts so we can do what we want to do. My kids *know* this schedule and it works for us. I think you just need to find something that works for your family and stick to it. That way, the kids know what to expect and there is no arguing about it. I hope you get some good ideas. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My kids are in 2nd and 5th grade.
I have a big white board in my kitchen with today's check list for each child. They know they have free time after they take care of their responsibilities. They quietly get to the items and check them off as completed. It looks something like this:
__ snack
__ homework
__ fold towels
__ free time



answers from Oklahoma City on

I think kids need a mental break after 8 hours in school. So we do a snack right after school then head to gymnastics/dance/other activities.

Once a month we have a grandparents raising grandchildren group meeting but otherwise we're home a little after 6:30. The kids do whatever little bit of homework they have then and when they're done they play or what ever they want until time for bed which is 9pm.



answers from Savannah on

On days that there is no sports or event to attend, we walk or ride bikes home from school. That gives them a little bit of exercise and "off time". (If we have something going on that evening, I pick him up in the car and save that 20 minutes). He gets home at 3:40 if we walk, 3:20 if I drive. We walk in, have a drink (snack if he wants it), we talk about school while I go over his folder for the comment page or whatever. Then, homework. He's in kindergarten and doesn't really have much of anything, but my standards are much higher than his teacher's standards, so I have my own little thing going on where I work with him for a few minutes on some things he needs to work on or practice (we do some writing while my youngest son colors, we do some math play, he reads to us a bit). Then he can either have some time to himself in his room, or go outside and play with his little brother and / or the neighbors.

If there's Kung Fu, sparring, or his Bible club, he does that and afterwards it's family dinner (dinner is prepared ahead of time). After dinner we go to the pool even if just half an hour (trying to squeeze that last little bit of summer out...), but when the pool is officially closed for the winter then I'll take the kids to the back road where I let him ride his bike and my 2 year old rides his big wheel or tractor without fear of cars. His martial arts practice days are 1 hour, but on the days that he's not going to practice he still practices 30 minutes at the house.

At about 7:15, he takes a shower while I brush little guy's teeth and cuddle him....then big guy gets out of the shower and brushes his teeth and gets ready for bed while I bathe little guy. We sit on the couch, cuddle and do family story time, a children's devotional, talk a couple minutes about the day, say prayers, and go to bed between 8-8:15. No later than 8:15.

Basically, he's got 4 hours to do homework, play, and eat. 45-60 minutes to do his bedtime routine. It's plenty if it's just routine and done, instead of wasting a bit of time wandering around thinking about doing something. TV is something they may watch if he's just inside playing with his brother and I'm cooking (Dino Dan or something like that for 30 minutes), but usually they don't watch TV in the afternoon/evenings. If he's eaten, teeth brushed, dressed for school, and we've prayed, then they can watch Curious George before we leave for school, but that's about all they have time for. TV or computer play are fine on weekends but there's just not a place for it (not that it's forbidden, just not a place for it) in our normal weekday schedule.


answers from Austin on

Depends on the child. Our daughters after school was much like the moms below.

I gave her a snack in the car on the way home.. When we got home, she had 30 min to an hour to decompress.. then homework, then play time. Dinner, a little more play time, then bath and bedtime that included us reading to her and if she wanted, she could stay in bed and read to herself.

Some children need to have snack and then do their homework right away, because once they get in a relaxed or playtime, they cannot be pulled into doing their homework..



answers from St. Louis on

Only have one in school (Kindergarten) so she rarely has homework. Hubby and I talked about a no cartoon rule until homework is done...but since I am the one who opens/looks at her folder and I get home an hour after she does, that doesn't really apply. We like to give her free time to do what she wants when she gets home. Sometimes it's play outside, sometimes inside, sometimes she wants to watch a cartoon or play on the computer with dad. Right now we just let her take the lead. She's usually ravenous so she'll eat a snack or two (usually gogurt and an applesauce). I am thinking in the future, I'll let her choose to do homework before or after dinner but she has to choose one of those!



answers from Dallas on

Kids are 8 & 10, 3rd & 5th grade. Both are in sports so we have afterschool practices or games 3-4 days a week.
Every day I write a list of all things that must be done before they can play with friends/get on computef (no tv during week here). They have to complete the list and I have to sign it but they can do it in any order they choose. Usually looks like this:
Clean up after snack
Hang up backpack
Clean out and put away lunch box
Other homework
Unload dishwasher
Chores (from daily chore chart)

I've found spelling out each expectation just works better; no reminding or arguing, I just refuse to sign off if things aren't done. They are usually home for 2-3 hours before we have to leave for practice/games so have plenty of time to get everything done. They get home at 3 and practices or games typically start between 5:30 and 6:30 and end between 8:00 and 8:30. We aim for an 8:30 bedtime but it varies depending on the night.



answers from Miami on

daughter gets home cleans out her lunch box, puts ice in freezer. Then she has 15 min to half hour to eat a snack and relax. Even a tv show . No more than half hour though. Then its homeowork.. She is 11 so she has 2 hours of homework. Or if she has an after school program.. One hour of homework then special then another hour. Then shower and relax before bed. More tv or playing cards or some such. When she was younger she had only an hour of homework time. If you notice your kid is taking more than that in a night for elementary its time to talk to the teacher.



answers from Charleston on

30 minutes after getting home, snack and playtime.

Depending on their ages, the next 30 minutes to 1 hour (more for teens) is spent on homework or reading.

Next are baths/showers, packing up book bags, laying clothes out for the next day, calling out test material


Maybe a game or little family tv time



answers from Grand Forks on

My kids get home from school at four and have an hour of free play until dinner. I encourage them to play outside at the park as much as possible weather permitting. One day a week they can play video games. They have dinner at 5:00pm, followed by their evening activities (swimming lessons, martial arts). They do homework after they get home from their activities, then they get ready for bed.



answers from New York on

First,give them 10-15 min.of playing then go straight to homework.make them think that snack is a reward for getting their homework done and doing it well.adherence dinner,bath(if needed),and bed.



answers from Minneapolis on

My kids are 8 & 5.

We get home around 4:30-4:45pm. Either my husband or I start dinner. Kid can play while we're making dinner or watch TV. Eat dinner and then do homework. After homework they can play. Neighbor kids usually come over and they have to be done playing by 7pm. At 7pm we have a snack, then it's showers, get ready for bed, books and usually in bed by 8:30pm.

Some days we have activities (cub scouts, dance, zumbatomic). Then that usually cuts into the play time. Homework is priority 1 after dinner. On those night they usually go to be closer to 9pm and don't get to read as long.

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