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Back to School: The Importance of Structure & Routines

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Customizing Your Child’s Daily Routine

Though there is a sense of freedom in the flexibility of summer, there is something innate about structure and routine once the school year brings. Children thrive on predictability, repetition, and consistency. “Knowing what to expect from relationships and activities helps children become more confident,” says Dr. Peter Gorski, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Children need routines in order to learn how to manage their time and their day.

What are routines?

  • Routines provide a strong foundation for future learning and independence.  They empower children to take responsibility.
  • Routines provide a sense of calm, control, and confidence in children.
  • Routines help children develop a sense of stability and order.
  • Routines are essential, but it is important to allow for some flexibility.
  • Structured appropriately, routines can reinforce positive behaviors.
  • Routines reassure children that their needs will be met.  Knowing what to expect increases confidence.
  • Routines reduce anxiety, by allowing children to learn from their surroundings instead of fretting about them.
  • Routines eliminate power struggles because children know what to expect.

Morning Routines

How you feel in the morning usually lays the foundation for your day.  Mornings can be very hectic, but set a routine that can provide a smoother start to the day. 

Tips for morning routines

  • Set the alarm clock for the same time each morning.  Sometimes setting two alarms clocks can be helpful.  Place the first alarm clock beside the child’s bed. Set the second alarm clock for 10 minutes later, and locate it across the room.
  • Create a cheerful and positive environment. Music can be a great motivator.
  • Provide your children with a substantial breakfast.
  • Eliminate tv viewing and video games to keep your children on track.
  • Place toothbrushes and hairbrushes in a convenient location to save time.
  • Create a launching pad to hold school-bound items or an “Out the Door Questions List”  Do you you’re your homework? Your school projects? Your sports equipment? Your lunch?

After School Routines

After School routines are just as important as morning routines.   These routines help teach children how to manage their time. 

Tips for After School Routines

  • Designate a spot (basket, hook, or cubby) for backpacks, jackets and shoes.
  • Assign an inbox or place for children to place any work for you to review.
  • Have options available for healthy snacks.
  • Create a homework zone equipped with all necessary school supplies.
  • Free playtime is important.  Decide whether your child needs a break directly after school or if it is more beneficial for them to have free time after they have completed their homework.

Meal Time Routines

Meals not only contribute to the mental health of children, they also establish a sense of family identity, and provide a positive environment for family interaction.  

Tips for Meal Time Routine

  • Plan regular mealtimes.
  • Share one positive experience from the day.
  • Review the calendar of weekly events.
  • Create the following weeks meal plan-get input from each family member.

Evening Routine

Evenings are the perfect time to set closure for the day.  It’s time to wind down and prepare for the following day. Building a bedtime routine will help your child learn how to be prepared and the importance of a goods night rest.

Tips for Evening Routines

  • Get everything in order for the next day.  Prepare lunches the night before and place book bags by the door. 
  • Set a calmer tone by encouraging your children to shower before bed, read a book, or listen to music. 
  • Get to bed earlier.  Rested children wake up more readily in the morning.

It is important to customize routines to meet the needs of your family. Each family should build a routine that works in their home.

Though creating routine for your family is very important, avoid making too many changes at once. Creating effective routines takes time. Build gradually.  Learning and understanding the importance of routines is a very important life long skill. 

Struggling to create consistency in your household? Having difficulty designing a routine that works effectively for your family?  A professional organizer can help you creatively problem solve and be successful in changing habits and setting up new routines.  

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