As a mother of three elementary school-aged children, I know the importance of keeping a fairly structured routine. My children may not know or understand it yet, but they thrive when we follow a structured routine or pattern in our day. They like the predictability of knowing what is coming up next and what is expected of them.
When I am consistent with routines at home, things run smoothly, but when we let the routine slide, things can get a little chaotic.
School without routines would be quite chaotic, but children by this point in the school year are thankfully well versed in the daily school routine. Knowing what is expected of them and what is coming up builds in success and order.
For young children a visual schedule can be an excellent tool for establishing a needed routine. You can create a visual schedule for just about any activity that you are wanting to build success or new learning in; such as single activities with multiple steps like hand washing or teeth brushing, or for a series of activities which create a larger routine, such as getting ready for bed, getting ready for school, or an after school checklist. Children who can read can also benefit from having a calendar print out of their activities and monthly expectations (chores etc.) readily available to them.
Visual schedules are easy to create and you can find many examples and free template for creating them online or use Microsoft word and clip art and create your own.
A few benefits of keeping routines:
1. Routines allow adults to step down from being “the boss” and allow children to learn to become more independent both practically and emotionally.
2. Things get done! If a child forgets what is next to do on their morning routine you can simply guide them back to their schedule.
3. It sets children up for success by teaching them time management and organizational skills- it is especially helpful for children who struggle with attention or organization executive functions.
4. Having children get involved in the creation of the routine helps adults get children to “buy-in” to them which leads to greater cooperation.
5. The predictability of the routine builds children’s sense of security and well-being.
A great way to talk and implement routines and visual schedules is at a family meeting. Not sure where to begin reach out to an Occupational Therapist at Enabling Adaptations to help.