Routines are a valuable tool for children and their parents. Whatever their age, children can be taught routines that will help them understand their responsibilities and what to expect each day, which will make transitions from home, school, daycare, and other places and activities much easier for children and parents alike. Start with these 5 tips to help your kids learn routines and you’ll be on your way to a smoother day.
Kids love taking charge. Give them the opportunity to be responsible for some of their own daily to-do’s – within your limits. A chart is a great way to do this. Create a chart with photos or clipart or purchase a chart like this that outlines the things they need to do before school or at bedtime to help them get started. This way, they can see for themselves what steps to take and don’t need so many verbal reminders. Giving them the responsibility for these simple tasks can be a major confidence booster as well.
2. A visual schedule
Teaching children a routine using a calendar helps them learn how to apply their habits in the long-term. Consider using a big family calendar where you can write or place pictures of the parts of your routine that will be weekly and monthly. If Grandma picks the kids up from school every Thursday, put it on the calendar. If a child has a spelling test every other Friday, it may benefit them to see it coming up and remind them to study on the days that lead up to it. Adults can help younger children by pointing out which day it is and how many days will pass until the next event.
3. Stick with it
Consistency is going to be your best friend when it comes to your children’s routines. When they know what to expect each day, they are far more likely to cooperate even when there are interruptions to your schedule. Follow your routines to the best of your abilities and talk things over with the children if there are going to be changes or new routines introduced. Do the same things in the same order as often as you can.
4. Give kids a time warning
When it is time to transition from one activity or routine to the next, give a warning. Simply letting a child know that “in 5 minutes it will be time to go,” or “10 more minutes until bath time” is often enough to help prevent a meltdown. Children have a limited understanding of time and framing it for them from an early age will give them a head start when it comes to their experiences outside the home.
5. Make routines meaningful
Children will be more likely to adopt and embrace routines when they include an activity they enjoy, like spending time with parents reading books or playing games. You might also want to include some “free” time in their day-to-day routines to give them moments to create and learn how to structure their time on their own. A meaningful routine may also include some alone time for an individual to take some space and breathe.
Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at Utterly Inexperienced, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.
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