As adults, we might get a little bored with them, but then again, it’s not about us, right? It’s about the kids, and kids need routine. Studies show that children thrive when they have routines, and parents can attest that when their children are “off,” it’s often related to schedule or other changes in daily patterns. Why are routines so important to the happiness and development of children? Here are seven reasons.
- Routines create a sense of safety. Surprise and change might be nice once in a while, but think about how you would feel if every moment was filled with surprise and change. Now think of how children might react. Cognitively, children have difficulty understanding and interpreting the world. Everything is new, and their brains are still developing. So when children begin to understand that many of the same things happen at certain times of the day, that they can depend on those things happening, it helps them process what is taking place, which leads to greater sense of security.
- Routines offer children consistency when their bodies do not. Children are growing every moment. Their bodies and their minds expand at an extraordinary pace, which is enough of a challenge for children (and adults!) to deal with. Routines show children that not everything changes, that some things can be expected.
- Routines develop a sense of time. When children encounter the same activities at the same time, it helps them understand patterns in the day and how those patterns relate to the larger world. For example, as babies, children learn to sleep when it is dark. They learn to wake when it is light. They eat when they are hungry. When they are in a routine, children learn that eating, sleeping and other functions take place around the same time every day. Later, they learn to actually tell time based on some of these functions.
- Routines facilitate regular sleeping patterns. Regular sleep is important to children’s development and everyone’s health. Without sleep, children do not have the chance to recharge, which can cause problems developmentally, emotionally, behaviorally and academically.
- Routines facilitate regular eating habits. We all know what happens when we don’t eat. Our concentration goes. We might get cranky. Our thinking and actions slow down as a result of our sugar levels dropping. Routines ensure this doesn’t happen and that the day goes smoothly.
- Routines let children look forward to things. Like adults, children have favorite parts of the day. A routine teaches children that those parts of the day happen regularly, that pleasurable activities are built into the schedule. Routines remind children that that even if a fun activity isn’t happening now, it will in the near future.
- Routines teach children that things begin and end. This rather abstract lesson is crucial, as it is one we sometimes struggle with even as adults. When something negative begins, we are unhappy. When it ends, we are happy. It’s the other way around for positive happenings. Think of the child who is having fun playing with a friend but is told it’s time to go home. Routines teach children to transition between start and finish and process the emotions that come along with the change.
As you can see, there are complex aspects of routine that we sometimes don’t think about. Sparkles! believes in allowing children flexibility to be themselves while operating within structure. Our routines are built around the needs of children physically, cognitively and emotionally. If you have a question about your child’s schedule and daily routine, please ask. A teacher or staff member will be happy to help you.