Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Beauty of Routine

I have observed that children thrive when they have a onsistent routine.    Whenever a child comes into class and has an "off" day, I ask them what was different about their day.  Inevitably there was something that took the child out of his or her normal routine. 

"I woke up late."
"We were out of orange juice."
"I couldn't find my shoes."
"I forgot to brush my teeth."

You get the picture.  After all how many of us would get off to a bad start if we didn't have coffee or tea?

Having a routine gives children security.  A morning routine provides a framework for the day to come.  Setting up a routine is simple. 

First be consistent about bedtime.  Elementary students and younger children need to have between 9 and 11 hours of sleep.  Bedtime should not vary  (too much) on the weekends or holidays because it will be hard to get back to the "normal" bedtime.

If your child has trouble waking up, provide an alarm clock and make sure it is set every night.  Many children wake up naturally when they are well rested.

Morning chores should be consistent.  It doesn't really matter which order you choose to accomplish morning tasks, but it helps if your child does them in the same order every day.  Children like to have a visual reminder, so leave the list on the fridge or make a colorful chart your child can check off.  Using a white board and dry erase markers allows you to reuse your visual.

Let's say you choose the following tasks for the morning routine:

Make the bed.
Put PJ's away.
Get dressed.
Make and eat breakfast then put dishes in sink or dishwasher. 
Grooming (teeth, hair, face, hands)
Any pet care or other necessary activities that need to be done before you leave.

For things to go easily do these tasks the night before:
Make lunch.
Put homework and other necessary items in a backpack.
Lay out clothes and shoes.
Put dirty clothes in a hamper of laundry basket.
Bathe or shower.

Once you have established a routine that works for your family, go ahead and make changes in it from time to time.  After all we want to raise children to be flexible and go with the flow.  I think if they are secure in their environment and the expectations for what needs to be accomplished are clear, variety can be delightful.   Isn't it nice to have a cappucino every now and then?

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