Routines Matter

Teacher reading to children and establishing a routine with them.Why Are Routines Important?

One of the most important concepts for parents and child care providers to consider is the child’s daily routine. A well thought out routine can be the secret to a calm, child centered learning environment if planned appropriately. Children desire to know what is coming next in their lives. If the established routine is consistent and predictable, the children in your care will begin to infer and make sense of “time” related to the events in the daily schedule. Perhaps morning snack always comes after story time, or Johnny’s Dad always arrives shortly after outdoor play. When a caregiver commits to establishing a consistent routine, they are building a sense of trust and children have a sense of control over the day.

On the other hand, if the daily routine is full of unknowns and interruptions, this chaotic environment will likely result in worry and anxiety in young children. Children who cannot yet communicate feelings around the disorganization may instead display disruptive behaviors toward the parent or caregiver and other children in the setting.

Routines In The Homebaby-1151347_960_720

Parents and caregivers can work together to establish routines at home that are similar to child care and vise-versa. We all lead busy lives, and weekends and evenings can be even
more spontaneous. Parents will find that they have less struggles with their little ones if they can at least keep meals and bed time or nap time close to a normal routine. Don’t forget to communicate together about changes in your normal routine as well. Caregivers who are aware of this can be more sensitive to individual children’s needs.

Example On How To Keep Routine In The Home

Parents can make a simple flow chart of events as a visual for children at home similar to what you might find in a preschool classroom. This could be posted on the refrigerator and as the day goes on, the child could move a refrigerator magnet to the picture of what happens next. Eventually children won’t rely on moving the marker with each event, and will be satisfied with knowing that they have passed a few steps and can visually see what is next. These picture schedules are also great at preparing children for a change in the daily routine. Parents and caregivers can talk about how the routine will be different today with a simple explanation and perhaps rearrange the photos if needed to help the child see how they will go about the day. Check out these additional tips on establishing routines from eXtension.

Routine With Infants

For caregivers of infants and toddlers routines Infant getting a bathare all about meeting the needs of the child in a responsive, nurturing way. We wouldn’t expect all infants to be fed, or nap at the same time, but the manner in which you respond and the environment you design to meet the infant’s needs can be seen as your established routine. For more information on establishing routines check out this article from NAEYC.

Key Points When Setting Up Your Daily Routine

  1. Consider the age and developmental stage of the children when establishing routines.
  2. Consistency is important to build trust and reduce behaviors and anxiety.
  3. Parents and caregivers can work together to enhance the consistent and predictable routine.
  4. If there must be a change in the routine, try to prepare the child ahead of time.
  5. An established routine will allow you to be flexible when needed with minimal disruptions.

What are your tips for setting up routines in your child care center or home? Leave us a comment below!

Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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Consistent Schedules For Infants And Toddlers

Infant in bedHave you ever said, “My baby is crabby because we were too busy for nap time”? Or witnessed a hungry toddler throw a temper tantrum in the grocery store? Or have you said “My toddler has requested this book so many times that I can read it in my sleep!”

Infants and toddlers benefit from the nurturing and responsive relationships which they experience through consistent daily routines and repetition. Morning routines, transitions before and after child care, meal and snack times, chore time, indoor and outdoor play, and consistency at bedtime create environments for healthy growth and development. Meal time and bed time are two ways to add consistency to your child’s day:

Meal Time

Strive to eat together in your home as a family at least one meal a day. Children who eat meals at home eat healthier and more economically and experience positive conversation. Family meals foster physical, cognitive, emotional and social well-being for your infant and toddler and benefit your entire family.

Bed Time

Infants and toddlers feel more comfortable at bedtime when they experience routines in the same order and at the same time each night. This may include a warm bath, brushing teeth, changing into pajamas, cuddling with a special toy during story time or singing a special lullaby together. Quiet music and conversation may also be soothing. Limiting sugar, caffeine and television also creates a calmer bedtime.

Children thrive best when they are able to count on loving parents and caregivers to provide positive consistent schedules and routines. Consistency also minimizes power struggles between parents and children.

Is it realistic to have a consistent routine 100% of the time? Absolutely not. The unexpected happens and daily schedules get turned upside down. Major life changes such as military deployments, family illness, and custody issues also interfere with routines.

Try your best to prepare your child for school success by planning a consistent routine based on their individual needs.

Nancy Frecks, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

This article was originally published by Frecks as a PDF for Nebraska Extension. We have republished it here with her permission.

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

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