Why routines are helpful . . .
Routines help children understand the world. For young children so much of the world is new and they are looking for some sense of order in everything going on. Without a routine, a child will be dependent on the adults to know what comes next. With a routine, a child can learn what to expect and they will enjoy their independence and build confidence in their ability to navigate the world. Below are more ways that routines benefit children.
Routines can be based on a daily activity or a situation. Some examples are:
Plan your Routine
Some routines will happen naturally. A routine could be as short and simple as your child being the one who shuts off the lights before bed. You may see that if they don’t get to turn off the light they become upset because their routine was changed. You can use these smaller routines to build larger routines. If your child likes to turn off the light you can have them brush their teeth before they can turn off the light in the bathroom then they go put their pajamas on and then turn off the bedroom light. When you notice your child has developed a routine try to follow it as long as your child wants to because creating a sense of order in very important for children under the age of 6.
When you are planning to implement a routine from scratch it is important to think it through. Think about everything that could go wrong, materials needed, time limits, space needed, and what needs to be done. It takes children weeks some times months of following a routine before they start to follow it independently. The less you change the routine after you implement it the faster they will understand and learn the routine.
Implementing your Routine
This is often the hardest part when most people give up. Implementing a routine takes time, engagement, and consistency before it becomes easy. The younger the child the longer it will take to make it a routine. Putting in the extra effort, in the beginning, will save a lot of time down the road. Here are some ways to get the routine off to a good start.
Maintaining your Routine
The goal of these routines should be to be a stepping stone towards independence. Once a routine is fairly set your child will likely start the routine by themselves. When there is a consistent routine you can take special days by making a change to the routine. For example, you can skip a routine for a special day or make a routine extra special by adding something. As your child grows they may change their routine a bit on their own or outgrow certain routines. So long as everything that needs to be done is getting done let your child keep their independence by managing their own routine.
By Emily Suarez