Daily routines can provide children with beneficial, learning opportunities that ensure safety, consistency and comfort in their environment. Young children might not yet fully understand the concept of time, so they do not order their lives by hours and minutes, but rather by the events that happen. In what some researchers have described as an ‘epidemic of anxiety’, the predictability and familiarity that comes with routine offers the perfect ‘safe space’ that kids need. When events happen in the same order every day, children have a better understanding of their world, and therefore feel more secure.
Why Should I Implement a Routine?
- Establish expectations and manage behavior
- Break the day or an activity into manageable parts
- Provide support with transitioning from one activity to another, especially when it is a new activity
- Minimize resistance to less-preferred activities
- Foster self-confidence and responsibility
- Support independence and self-control
- Understand concepts such as “before and after”
- Where do I start with developing a routine?
The most valuable and important way to create routines is by looking at the child’s strengths or favorite activity and build upon them so that they learn and thrive throughout the day. A picture cue card can help children visually understand what activity is coming next. For example, utilize one favorite activity like playdough or playing outside. Then add every day events such as eating lunch and nap-time. Do not forget to add clean up time and bedtime routines (brushing teeth, story time, and quiet time). Children under three start with no more than 5 picture cue cards and slowly add more in one at a time. Older children should start picture routines with 8-10 cue cards.