Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Importance of Routine

Rituals and routines provide children with security and a sense of safety. Their understanding of what comes next allows for them to prepare. Change is difficult and transitions can present challenges. By developing a routine, children know what to expect and this reduces the stress on everyone and makes for a much calmer transition.

The consistency provided by the five day a week program helps children (and parents) develop a routine and begins to help children develop a mastery of self. Throughout the course of their young lives children are presented with any number of changes that are beyond their control. Infants and toddlers are confronted with giving up breastfeeding, bottles, cribs, to name a few. They are placed in new environments surrounded by new people. All of these erode their sense of security. Predictability allows for children to develop self-discipline, to take control of their own activities and gives them the confidence to tackle new challenges. Being around the same adults and same classmates on a consistent basis helps them develop true relationships quicker and aids in their social development. Children often display signs of stress when presented with the challenge of missing a classroom event such as birthday celebration or a special lesson on a day when they were not in class. It is more difficult for children attending school on a partial week schedule to grasp concepts and often takes them longer to show academic growth.

Children from homes where belongings are not properly put away have a difficult time understanding that life can run more smoothly if things are organized a little. In a Montessori learning environment, children are exposed to neat and orderly classrooms. They learn to care for their classroom, respect their classmates, and to properly use the learning materials. The order of the Montessori classroom allows for children to focus and concentrate on their work without worry. Children learn to prepare a work space and meticulously note the materials needed to complete their task. Because each child cares for their environment and carefully stores the learning materials when their work is done, there is no worry of a missing puzzle piece or broken materials.

The importance of establishing routines or family rituals can have an even greater impact as children grow older. Something as mundane as a family game night every Thursday has the potential to provide families with a venue for family discussions in a safe environment. Even in the most difficult of times of adolescence, children can look forward to these predetermined events.

Six Benefits of Using Routines with Your Kids

By: Dr. Laura Markham

1. Routines eliminate power struggles because you aren't bossing them around.  This activity (brushing teeth, napping, turning off the TV to come to dinner) is just what we do at this time of day.  The parent stops being the bad guy, and nagging is greatly reduced.

2. Routines help kids cooperate by reducing stress and anxiety for everyone.  We all know what comes next, we get fair warning for transitions, and no one feels pushed around.

3.  Routines help kids learn to take charge of their own activities.  Over time, kids learn to brush their teeth, pack their backpacks, etc., without constant reminders.  Kids love being in charge of themselves. This feeling increases their sense of mastery and competence.  Kids who feel more independent and in charge of themselves have less need to rebel and be oppositional.

4. Kids learn the concept of "looking forward" to things they enjoy, which is an important part of making a happy accommodation with the demands of a schedule.  He may want to go to the playground now, but he can learn that we always go to the playground in the afternoon, and he can look forward to it then.

5. Regular routines help kids get on a schedule, so that they fall asleep more easily at night.

6. Schedules help parents maintain consistency in expectations. If everything is a fight, parents end up settling: more TV, skip brushing teeth for tonight, etc.  With a routine, parents are more likely to stick to healthy expectations for everyone in the family, because that's just the way we do things in our household.  The result: a family with healthy habits, where everything runs more smoothly!