We all know kids love routine. From the time they’re infants, we talk about feeding and nap schedules and sleep routines. Kids LOVE routine because routines give them a sense of predictability in their lives. Routine give kids structure and security to know that their needs are going to be met. With regular routines in place, kids are better able to handle changes in other parts of their lives, such as starting school or even a new sibling. Routines remove the stress of unpredictability from kids (and parents’) lives.
Starting school (or heading back to the classroom) is a huge transition in a young child’s life and requires huge adjustments to a family’s schedule. All of a sudden, kids are told they need to get up, be dressed, have their breakfast and their teeth brushed, their backpack ready and be out the door by a certain time. While for an adult that might seem like a natural morning routine, for a child, that’s a lot of steps and can cause them a lot of stress and anxiety, and cause a lot of frustration for parents when things don’t happen as quickly as they need to.
How to Create a Back to School Routine
Include Your Child
Including your child in the process of creating the new Back to School routine can help them feel a sense of ownership. They’re not just being told they need to brush their teeth after breakfast, they are “choosing” after breakfast as the time when they will brush their teeth. The more involved your child is in creating the routine, the more likely they are to do the steps independently, which is of course what we all want anyway!
Make the Routine Visible
A visual of the steps your child needs to take every day can help them to remember what needs to be done. Pictures are especially helpful for children who are not yet reading. A simple routine chart on their bedroom wall or on the bathroom mirror can help remind kids what they need to do next and eliminates the need for parents to constantly remind kids of what they need to do next. Less nagging, more getting stuff done? Sounds good to me!
Check out Rewardum’s Reusable Routine Stickers. These reusable stickers can be placed on any surface (a refrigerator, door, mirror, anywhere you need them to be!)
Refer to the Chart
Rather than telling kids the next step in their daily routine, refer them to their routine chart. Encourage them to tell you what’s next. Routines help parents to do less talking, so let your routine do the talking for you! You can help guide them to the answer, such as “ok, you’ve brushed your teeth, what’s next?” But you don’t need to keep telling them (no one wants to nag, right?) because the answers are right in front of them. Plus, we want our school aged kids to start being more independent and taking some self responsibility, right? How can they do that if we are always there telling them to go potty before we leave the house?
Find "Connection Time"
When creating your routine, make sure you have some time in the morning and/or the evening for connecting. You know how you need your morning cup of coffee or a brisk walk with the dog in the morning to feel yourself? Kids need to connect with us to feel empowered to be themselves.
We love the Melissa & Doug Daily Magnetic Calendar for a quick morning check-in and to answer any questions kids have about the day. From what day is it? To what’s the weather like? To any special events happening that day. There’s even a space for the child to post their mood.
For a mindful moment, we love the Glow Kiddo Glow Affirmation Cards for Kids for an opportunity to connect on an emotional level and empower kids for a successful day.
Reading a picture book at breakfast time is another great way to foster that connection. Plus, isn’t a book or affirmation better than 10 minutes of TV time in the morning? I usually discourage TV in the morning because it becomes hard to turn off and focus on the rest of the morning routine.
When kids complete a task on their own, celebrate them! Rewardum’s has “I did it” stickers that can be placed beside each accomplished task. Or you can simply acknowledge their accomplishment by saying “I’m so happy to see that you got dressed by yourself today!”