All children either at home or in school need some type of routine, a way to get things done and a sense of security. While change is a learning opportunity, it can also be stressful for children. Find out why routines and schedule matter.
What is a Routine?
It is basically what we do every single day. Everyone needs it. Either child or adult, everyone has their own routine that needs to be followed across different settings: school, home or work. Routines help to establish a structure on how to get things done every single day. This is very critical to toddlers and pre-school aged children as they are yet to learn how to follow structured activities. And to have a routine, a schedule must be followed.
What is a Schedule?
It is the planning of a day by time and activities. Children may understand it as a routine, a way in which they learn what are expected of them to do within a day. This is to help them know what will happen and will not happen for the whole day. Often times, teachers create a daily schedule that the children are to execute until it becomes a routine. As this is done consistently on a daily basis, the children can easily settle in and get used to it.
Why do Routines and Schedule Matter?
1. Schedules and routines gives sense of security.
It is important for children to know what’s coming next. They need to know what is expected of them to do for a day. If the schedule is consistent, children learn the pattern. Once a pattern is set children can infer, for instance, that after circle time is gym session and after gym session is snack time. In this way, there will be lesser anxiety. Remember that inconsistency and the “unknown” may cause emotional reactions. They may cry or become more irritable if there is no routine. This will help them trust the teachers more, especially when they just started school. It’ll help them understand that adults will take care of their needs on a regular basis.
2. It helps with the children’s social, emotional and cognitive development.
Children who have established routines are often more engaged with the teachers, peers and their environment. With routines, they are slowly becoming more independent as they are able to learn to anticipate what to do next. Routines help them know how to transit from one activity to another. Turn taking and sharing skills can also part of the routine. You can sing “clean up song” or “sharing is caring” song so that these skills will eventually be part of them. This age-group are proven to learn through structure and repetition. Every part of the routine is important this is why it should be done consistently. However, if change must be done, it is better to explain it to the children beforehand.
3. Everyday routines are full of learning opportunities.
Routine starts upon arrival of the children, to putting the bags down, to finishing the lesson, and up to the dismissal time. Every small part of the routine is significant. However, either big or small, each part can be used as teachable moments. Let’s say during snack time, we can explain to the children the importance of washing of hands before and after eating. If given a chance, we can let our children brush their teeth and explain to them the importance of taking care of our teeth. While eating, we can ask them to share the food to classmates. When they are eating fruits and vegetables, emphasize to the class that eating these food will make them stronger and will make their bodies healthier. And mind you, this is just during snack time. There are millions of things we can share to our children during their routine activities.