In last week’s post, we covered the crucial role that order and routine for children plays in their daily interactions with us adults, as well as their overall development.
We also touched on what order and routine for children may look like in your home.
In this post, I go a step further and share real ways we can foster more order and routine for children in their daily schedule, as well as in their physical space.
I also share a simple strategy to remind us how to foster order and routine for children as daily situations arise.
Order & Routine for Children- The 5 Ws & How
Remember the 5Ws from elementary school? They prompted simple questions we were asked to answer demonstrating reading comprehension and our ability to follow plot lines.
I like to think of the 5Ws as a way to help little ones foster order and routine. It may sound simple but ultimately kids just want to know:
Who… Who is watching over me today? Who am I eating lunch with?
What… What is expected of me after dinner? What are quiet activities I can do?
Where… Where are my color pencils? Where is my snack for the day?
When… When are you free to play with me? When do we go to the park?
Why… Why do we eat at the table? Why do I push my chair in?
How… How can I help myself to water? How can I help tidy up?
Not every situation calls for every W question to be addressed. But overall we can really view the 5Ws as a sort of foundation of order and routine for children.
We can use the 5Ws to:
Better understand where our children are coming from when they react in ways that upset us. Did the struggle, tantrum or frustration start over a lack of information tied to the 5Ws?
Create more order and routine in their daily schedule and physical space. What information is missing that we can provide?
By empowering children with this simple information, we will see a reduction in tantrums, struggles, frustrations and misunderstandings, while seeing an increase in children’s autonomy and self confidence.
Fostering Order & Routine for Children
Below, I share some ideas to foster more order and routine for kids. Know that no matter what situation arises, you can apply the 5Ws and find a strategy that works in your home.
Visual daily schedule: These are fantastic ways to bring more order and routine into the daily schedule for young kids. Visual daily schedules can map out activities for the day or the whole week and address the what, where and when of a child’s day. They help children to see what their day will consist of, the sequence of activities and what they can look forward to. You can make these daily schedules for children on a simple word document. You can also make “activity cards” that can then be reused with putty, velcro or clothes pins. Examples below!
Helpful tasks chart: Young children love being a part of family life. Once we show them how to do a task, they will gladly do it! Of course our tone, body language and attitude play an important role here. A chart that shows daily tasks is a great way to give children responsibility. This type of chart is similar to the daily schedule. It can be made in a simple word document or individual “task cards” can be made and then rotated on the chart each day or week. It’s also great to include adults on the chart. It allows us to model how to use the chart and do those specific chores from a family perspective instead of being the parent that has to “teach” the child. Depending on how you like to organize, you can also combine the daily schedule with the tasks chart!
Setting verbal expectations: Setting clear, kind, firm and developmentally appropriate expectations is a great way to foster order and routine for children. You are providing information related to the 5Ws while helping young children better understand their daily schedule. “After you wake up from nap, I will be home and we will read books together.” “When you come home from school, we will all wash hands and have lunch together.” Part of the key to verbal expectations is that you repeat the schedule or routine to very young children until they really grasp it. This is especially helpful with toddlers (and yes, you will feel like a broken record player at the beginning, but it pays off!).
Showing the where & how: This is all about showing children and not telling them. Show them where they can find an item that they need. Show them how to do something like prepare their own snack or fill their own water glass. Take them through the steps slowly and without talking. Remember how very capable they are if we give them the appropriate information and child sized materials.
A key ingredient of order and routine for children is that we are consistent regardless of the type of day we are having. Not always easy but makes a world of difference!
What do you do to foster order and routine in your home? I would love to hear from you.