The Importance of Routines, Schedules and Predictability for Children
If you are anything like me these days, you are so busy and overwhelmed, that you can’t even keep track of what day of the week it is or if you even remembered to eat breakfast this morning. We have all had a lot on our plates and even more things we are juggling in the air. Interestingly, it is the familiar activities in our lives that provide us and our children with comfort during these challenging and uncertain times. Just like adults, children need to have predictable routines that have room for flexibility.
Schedules and routines help children:
- Feel safe, secure, and comfortable
- Know what is happening now and what comes next
- Feel more in control of their environment
- Carry out an activity or task
- Engage in learning
- Build independence
Rituals and routines help provide structure for both children and adults alike. A ritual may be a song, rhyme, game, kinesthetic movement, or any other activity that is used in a predictable, repeated pattern over time to communicate values, foster community, or remind children of behavioral expectations. When children know exactly what it is coming next, it decreases their anxiety and stress levels, ultimately reducing the incidence of challenging behaviors like tantrums.
Many of us use a calendar or our phone to track meetings and appointments, so we can plan and organize ourselves accordingly. Since young children can’t tell time and don’t know how to read or write yet, a picture schedule can help them keep track of the steps in their routine and feel more empowered over their day. Everyday routines are full of learning opportunities for young children, like teaching them the importance of washing their hands before eating or brushing their teeth before leaving for preschool. You can also use these everyday routines as opportunities to talk with young children and help develop their vocabulary and understand concepts like first, next, before, and after. As young children learn to anticipate steps in their routines, they slowly become more independent in managing them.
Book recommendations that promote routines and rituals:
Free printable visual schedules:
Article suggestions for parents: