Creating Routines: Promoting Love and Learning
From those earliest days after a child is born, parents begin employing new routines to meet the needs of an infant and keep up with the daily obligations of home and work. As children grow and develop, family routines change. Research demonstrates when children follow a daily routine they may be healthier, better behaved, and could even perform better at school. (Education.com, 2018)
Rules and routines create order and structure to the day. Knowing what to expect allows predictability, builds independence, and promotes emotional regulation.
When creating routines, the CDC recommends these three key components:
- Consistency means to uphold to the same standard every time. Consistency in response to a specific desired action or behavior will help those actions and behaviors to occur more often.
- Predictability is a result of consistent repetition making it possible to know what to expect next. Predictability allows children to feel secure in the structure of their day.
- Follow through indicates seeing a plan to its completion. Follow through builds trust and security. When parents and caregivers follow through with what they say they will do, children know what to expect. (2017)
At Stepping Stone School, we recognize the many benefits of establishing routines in the daily lives of the children in our programs. With consistency and follow through, children are able to predict what will come next in their daily routine, which builds independence and confidence. Additional benefits include:
- Increasing self-control and positive behavior: consistent routines allow children to feel secure in the predictable nature of their day. Knowing the sequence of the day makes it easier to wait for certain events like the return of a parent from work at the end of a day.
- Promote health and safety: putting into place routines for health and safety like washing hands before eating help children to habitually follow healthy guidelines.
- Support social skills: incorporating routines like greeting others, talking about the day and taking turns to build social skills which will support children during their school years and beyond.
Daily routines can become “maintenance” activities, but the consistency allows for growth and creativity within those activities. For example, a routine of cleaning up toys can become a game when we ask a child to hunt for all the toys of a specific color or shape. Adding an element of fun keeps routines from getting dull.
How to get routines started at home:
- A good morning, starts the night before. Often preparing bags and setting out clothes the night before can alleviate the stress of last moment changes to a morning schedule.
- Plan routines around existing schedules. Think about the general timeline and flow of the day. Then consider what needs to occur to make these daily routines function better.
- If you have multiple children, you may want to stagger wake up times. If one child does not require as much support as another, you may choose to allow that child to sleep a little longer, so you may focus attention on helping the other child get ready.
- Consider creating visual schedules. If your children are not yet reading, a visual schedule supports literacy and sequencing events by depicting each step in major routines like getting ready for the day or getting ready for bed.
- Be flexible. Sometimes special occasions will arise when your schedule will change unexpectedly. As much as children benefit from routines, all children benefit from learning how to be flexible amid change.
Establishing routines allows children and caregivers to work together knowing what is expected and what must occur to be successful each day.