As parents, we all know the importance of developing a daily routine for your child. When children have a consistent and daily routine, they thrive. They are able to express themselves within an established set of boundaries that gives them some stability. Also, having set times for sleeping, waking and eating gives a child various anchor points for the day.
But how can parents create an effective routine for their child? Here are some simple ways to get started.
- Have your own routine: Before setting a routine for your child, ensure that you have your own routine. Be consistent and firm about it. If dinner time is at 8 PM, then ensure that this is followed every day. Children learn by imitating the adults around them, so when you follow a routine, your children will naturally adapt to it too.
- Help your child with visuals: Young children do not yet know how to read the time, and telling them that it is 8 PM doesn’t mean anything to them. You can use a simple set of visuals to tell your child what to do at each time. In our schools, we have a routine clock that look like this. You can also make your own. Easy, isn’t it?
- Rituals: Rituals (a sequence of activities) are followed for a reason. They are predictable, give comfort, and finally the child ends up looking forward to it! Create small rituals around different times of the day to children get excited to do the ritual. For example: Wake up – Wash your face – Brush your teeth – eat breakfast. Do NOT break a ritual, it can create anxiety for small children.
- Meal times: Meal times can sometimes get extremely tiring for parents. To ease the stress around meal times, ensure a ritual around meal times. Have a special place set for your child, let them have a special plate and spoon, sing a little rhyme. You can even have a place card telling you child where to sit and eat!
- Music: We’ve already written about Ashwini teacher from Kamothe, who uses music very effectively in her school. Music makes all rituals fun and exciting. Just give each ritual a twist by singing along and see how children respond. In our schools, we have a song for every activity. And it works, every time.
As your child grows up, you’ll find that they will settle into their own routines, and even create small rituals of their own. Watch and observe to see how your child feels most comfortable, and ensure that both you and your child get enough time for rest and play as well!