A new school year is a great time to make sure that we are on track for success. One of the ways we can do this is to review our routines. Why are routines important?
Young children do not really understand the concept of time. Events of the day provide the structure they need to understand their world and to feel secure. Change can be stressful – having a routine provides comfort and consistency. Having a predictable schedule reduces stress and fear of the unknown; transitions are easier and children are able to relax and fall asleep more easily at night.
As their young brains develop, children are better able to plan ahead and predict the future. Routines reinforce their predictions and also allow them to understand the concepts of “before and after”. They develop self-control skills as they learn to wait to do a particular activity.
Routines eliminate power struggles, particularly at difficult times of the day – the early morning rush, mealtimes and bedtimes. If children know what to expect they are better able to participate. Shared values, beliefs and interests are strengthened. We are able to build in precious family rituals – snuggles at bedtime, reading stories, talking about your day - which all bring the day to a close and help to reinforce family ties.
When children have routines, we can create a calmer home. Bath time becomes a fun part of the day instead of a surprise or a struggle. Children take pride in knowing what is expected of them; they can cooperate and become more confident.
Healthy constructive habits like brushing teeth, tidying up, doing homework are reinforced and establish a foundation for success in later life.
It is important not to become too rigid! Minor changes teach our children to be flexible and to adjust. While mealtimes, snack times, nap times and bed times are all important for our children’s health and wellbeing, unusual events like a special visitor or an outing should occasionally be allowed to disrupt the everyday routine. Memories are made like this!