Routine gives children a sense of predictability in their lives. Routines can help them feel like their needs are being met regularly. In a familiar way, kids can rely on the sense of security they feel with a back to school schedule.
Sleeping and eating habits have probably been established by most parents since their children were infants.
As children grow, new activities appear, new patterns emerge, and new habits are formed. Regular routines help kids cope with these changes more easily.
Back to school is perhaps the most stressful time of year for families. After a relaxed (or nonexistent) summer schedule, kids are suddenly expected to get up, dress, and leave the house fairly quickly. As there are more interactions and after-school activities, there are new stressors and transitions.
Establishing a school routine
Early mornings, busy schedules, and sometimes some frustration accompany the start of the new school year.
Here are some tips for creating routines that work for your family and create smoother transitions in the morning, evening, and after-school.
Routines are important for each child
Ask your child what they think are the most important things to do. Discuss what is working and what isn’t. Find out what their hardest parts of the morning are.
Can you tell me what they need the most help with?
What can they accomplish on their own?
What is the best amount of time for them to get ready?
When you include a kid in the process of creating something, they’re an active participant in it. Rather than feeling like tasks are imposed upon them, kids feel ownership in the process and take initiative to do things themselves.
Start back to school slowly
Practice a week or two before school starts. In this way, kids are gradually introduced to what mornings will look like as the school year approaches.
Get up a little earlier each day to start.
Then get dressed before breakfast.
By the time school starts, kids will have a good sense of how the mornings will go if you include breakfast.
Visibility of the schedule
It can be helpful to have a chart or a list for everyday routines that require a lot of steps, such as getting ready in the morning, after-school responsibilities, or going to bed at night. By posting something tangible on the wall like a family command center, parents don’t have to constantly remind their children what they need to do every day.
Ensure that the chart is simple-include the necessities without making it a hassle. You can simply put a written checklist on the back of your child’s bedroom door or on the bathroom mirror for older children. Images or photos posted at a child’s height help them visualize themselves completing each step of the routine.
It is easy to remember what needs to be done if the back to school routine is posted.
Follow the routine
Rather than directing kids through their daily tasks, use the chart or checklist to encourage them to take initiative.
“Ok, you’ve brushed your teeth, now what? ””
“What should you be doing right now, according to the chart?”
Not only can a parent avoid nagging, but the child can begin to think proactively. Encouraging children to manage their own routines provides them with much-needed personal responsibility and self-sufficiency. They begin to take the initiative in caring for themselves.
Make connecting a part of your daily routine
Instead of a flurry of activity and a rush to get out the door, start your day with a few minutes of one-on-one time with your child. This can frequently mean the difference between a morning of resistance and a morning of cooperation. Getting up 10 minutes earlier to cuddle, talk, or read together in your child’s favourite chair starts the day on a positive note.
You tell your child that they are important and that you have nowhere else to be at that moment—not work, not school, just right there with them. Then they feel more connected to you and are better prepared to face the day.
Avoid screen time in the morning to foster even more connection and ease. When kids become engrossed in a show or electronic device, it can be difficult to get them to turn off and leave. Encourage your children to play or read until it is time to leave if they are ready early.
Success should be celebrated
Recognize when children complete tasks on their own and encourage them to stick to their routines.
“I really appreciate you being able to take your own shower while I prepare breakfast.”
Alternatively, “You got yourself up today—yay!”
Alternatively, “I noticed you put your shoes on at the same time you dressed.” That is extremely helpful!”
“This is the first time we haven’t had to rush through breakfast,” for example. It feels great!”
Remember that this is something your child is expected to do as a cooperative member of the family, and rewarding them for completing tasks will diminish their sense of pride and capability. Simply continue to recognise and appreciate their efforts in assisting them in getting ready and out the door on time.
Routines allow children to learn to focus on the needs of the situation: doing what needs to be done because it needs to be done. This creates a strong sense of capability while also removing opportunities for power struggles.
Schoolchildren Routine Example
Children’s Morning Routine
- Encourage children to take responsibility for getting themselves ready for the day. A chart of each step of the “getting ready” process for small children can reduce the number of reminders you have to give.
- Maintain a consistent rotation of simple breakfast options, including a few “to go” options for those extra-crazy mornings. Crockpot oatmeal, toast, yoghurt, cereal, and fruit are all simple and nutritious options. To-go options include muffins, bagels, and breakfast bars.
- Assign tasks to specific times, such as when you should eat breakfast, and use a timer or cell phone alarm to remind you to get started. If you know you need to leave the house by 7:30, set an alarm for 7:20 and 7:25 to get you out the door.
- Adding extra time to your routine can save you from disaster, as anything from a lost shoe to a spilled milk cup can throw everything off track. Determine how much time you truly require to leave the house (time yourself for a week to get an accurate number), then add 15 minutes.
Routine Following School
- When kids get home from school, they are usually hungry. Put snack bins in the fridge and pantry so kids can help themselves to healthy snacks. Trail mix, raisins, and energy bars can go in the pantry bin, while yoghurt, fruit, and other healthy snacks can go in the fridge bin.
- Encourage children to change out of their school clothes as needed, and hang up any uniform pieces that must remain neat. If your children have after-school activities, now is the time to get them dressed and ready to go.
- If you want your children to do their homework right after school, establish and stick to a routine from the start. If the dining table is being used, set up a homework station or keep supplies in a portable container.
School kids’ evening routine
- Don’t let school events, appointments, and meetings sneak up on you. Make sure you check your weather app, so you know if you need cold weather gear, umbrellas, or sunscreen.
- Make sure you have everything you need the night before by packing backpacks, musical instruments, or sports equipment. Make sure your child’s homework is completed and their backpack is packed before bed, so permission slips, lunch money, gym clothes, and school projects won’t be forgotten.
- Pack any snacks your children will need for school or after-school activities the night before. Line up lunchboxes and reusable water bottles in the fridge to grab and go in the morning.
- The night before, choose your clothing. Put the outfit on the closet door knob so your child knows what to wear.
- Before bed, guide your child through a guided meditation. For elementary school aged children, Cool at School or Remember Easily are great options.
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