Daily routines help children to navigate through daily challenges, learning new things from a safe and comforting environment.
I wrote about the simple daily routines that my children and I shared when they were much younger. I never thought in depth about the importance of “routine” at that time; however, I can now see that those daily routines had helped us in many ways.
So what is routine? It is about “a sequence of actions regularly followed” – a set pattern of processes that is used repeatedly to accomplish specific tasks or goals.
Let’s touch on one of the important elements of routine – Sense of security!
We all need routines, especially children. Have you ever experienced being away from home for a lengthy period and always feel very happy to be home and being back into routine?
Why do you think that is the case?
Because once we are back into our routine, it helps us navigate our daily activities in a more orderly manner, able to control what to expect and what to do with less stress, right? Do you agree?
Well, children are the same. You will notice that when children are out of their routine, they are very unsettled. This is because they do not know what to expect and how to manage their expectations as their comfort zone has been thrown into an unfamiliar territory. This causes anxiety and anxiousness in them. And also children are still learning how to manage their emotions, thus they need more assistance in this area.
Let’s take the example of when my children were going and coming back from the library after borrowing their audio tapes and books. [see previous post about our library trip]
This is their routine:
- Wake up in the morning. Get ready, have breakfast, change and be ready to be out of the house by 9.00am at the latest.
- Allow time to park the car and walk to the library in time for 9.30am story time.
- After story time, around 10.30am, browse through and borrow a few books and audio collections.
- Order pizza from the local shop.
- Head to the park for lunch & some play.
- Be back home in time for a rest and listen to the newly borrowed audios, and read the books at night.
They felt safe and secure within their understanding of what to expect and what they are about to experience and had a good idea on what to look forward to when they got home.
Apart from feeling secure of knowing what to expect from this routine, my children learned the following as well:
They are more cooperative. They know what to expect and what comes next, and what they needed to do, so there was no confusion. There was no power struggle.
They learn to be in charge. They understood that the sooner they finished their play and lunch, it would be story telling time in their bedroom. They are literally learning to take charge of their actions and outcomes.
It helps with their confidence. They grew in confidence when they knew they could organise their day successfully and be in control of how they want their day to be, i.e. to be organised and ready so that they won’t miss the story telling time.
It also helps with caring for other people’s property. They understood that they have to be careful with the audio they borrowed, as they had to return it to the library the following week.
They learn about the days of the week, time and estimation . By following the routine, they learn which day is library day, what time they need to leave the house to be in time for story telling time etc. We also needed to allow some time for parking and walking as well, thus learning to estimate how long it takes to park and walk to the library.
They also learn about the functions of the libraries, the items that they can find in the library, what they can borrow and the behavioral expectations (being quiet etc) when in the library.
Family connections through shared experiences – Use this opportunity as a means to connect and interact with your children. By sharing the experience together, as well as holding their hands when walking towards the library, enjoying lunches together and selecting the audio and books together are great ways to build connections and open up communications with your children.
I look forward hearing your thoughts about routines and how you use routines to connect with and empower your children.