Children develop best in an environment of order and consistency. They are happier when they know what to expect. To a young child, a predictable world is a safe world.
By setting up regular, reliable times and procedures for daily events, parents and teachers provide a dependable environment. Routines also help avoid the power struggles that so often occur between adults and children.
You’ll find life with your child goes more smoothly if you set up and consistently carry out regular routines such as bedtime, wake-up time, mealtimes, chore times, play times, and homework times. It might help to have a list of the sequence of daily events posted where your child can refer to it as necessary (for example, Bedtime – put on pajamas, brush teeth, read story). Use simple drawings on the schedule to facilitate young children’s understanding (kids love to help with such drawings).
Of course, some changes in schedules and routines are unavoidable. And while children prefer routine, they are resilient enough when a familiar routine has to be disturbed.
There are two basic points to remember:
- Be consistent. Children are the most content when the same thing happens at pretty much the same time every day; and
- Explain deviations from the routine. If you have to change your plans, let your child know ahead of time, if possible, and explain the situation and the change you are making.
Family Friendly Communication for Early Childhood Programs
National Education for the Education of Young Children
Deborah Diffily and Kathy Morrison, editors; 1996; pg. 100