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Establishing Routines in Young Children


Usually when the school year comes to an end, so does the routine for many children and families. As our academic year draws close to the finish line, it is our responsibility to ensure that our children continue to have some structure in their day to day schedule. Why?

Simply because, children feel most secure when their lives are predictable. Even something as simple as having set meal times, bed times and play times helps create the much-needed consistency that children seek.

Benefits of having a routine:

  • Routines provide children with a sense of safety – The predictability and repetitiveness involved in having a routine gives children the security that they so desperately crave.
  • Routines help children feel in control of their environment. Young children do not understand the concept of time and they order their lives by the events that occur and unlike adults, they do not track their time by hours or minutes. By setting a routine, we are ultimately allowing our children to have a better understanding of the world around them, as they gradually learn how to manage their time in a manner that is productive and efficient.
  • Routines help boost children’s self-esteem because they provide our young ones with the opportunities to succeed in what they are doing.

Easy ways to implement a routine:   

  • Prepare for bath times
  • Plan meal times
  • Have a specific bed time schedule
  • Work with your toddler or pre-schooler to create a visual routine of their daily structure and hang it somewhere they can see it, like in their bedrooms or the kitchen fridge.

Finally, although routine is very important, we must remember not to be too rigid. Children need to learn how to deal with minor changes to their schedules every once in a while. If the remainder of a child’s day is predictable, young children will be able to deal with small alternations, certainly if they see us, as adults modelling the interruptions calmly.