With everyone back to work by now and children back to childcare centres, kindergartens and schools, now is the time that everyone is thinking about routines. The importance of a good routine cannot be underestimated. This goes for our daily routines in early childhood education services as well as encouraging positive routines in all aspects of life.
From a young age, routines are recommended by many developmental specialists and psychologists as a simple and super effective ritual to incorporate into children’s lives. Routines provide a safe space from which children can grow, explore and feel secure all the while.
Tips for a winning routine in your centre
While we can make recommendations and suggestions for morning routines prior to arriving at childcare, family life can be busy and unpredictable. What we can control is the approach we take to the routine in our centres each day. This can make children’s arrival go smoothly and the day to commence without unneeded stress. For children, and for many adults, having an idea of what’s coming next in your day is immensely comforting. Knowing what to expect means we can feel more prepared and confident in tackling each part of the day.
These tips and ideas will help you create a daily structure that empowers children and educators, helping everyone to get the most out of each day.
- Get off to a good start
First impressions count right? Same goes for the start of the day – the way we commence can set the tone and an individual’s mood. That’s why your arrival routine should be a priority. Do children know what to do when they arrive? Make it clear for everyone so there aren’t children wandering around feeling unsure. We commence our days at Bonkers Beat Music Kinder with a ‘Welcome a New Day’ session which incorporates stretching to get some energy out as well as grounding children with affirmations and mindfulness.
- Create balance across the day
Alone time, group time, outdoor time, creative play, singing, free time — there’s space for everything, and some things just work better when they follow others. For example, outdoor time is often great after mealtime. Group time is awesome in the mornings to get settled in. Creating that sense of balance and flow will make the days feel like they just work.
- It’s not one size fits all
Try to individualise where possible. For example, we know that many children will still require a nap at the age of 2, while some may not. For those who do not have the developmental need to take a nap during the day, create space for them to rest, listen to a meditation story or quietly look at a book. Similarly, each age group across your service has very different developmental requirements. Make sure your daily routines are reflective of each different room’s needs.
- Allow enough time for eating
Food affects mood and behaviour at varying degrees for everyone. Most of the time, regular snacks and meals are important for children to feel happy and engaged. Often children take a little more time to decide what to eat and get stuck in, so don’t rush the mealtime process. Also create a few intervals to facilitate regular eating and allow the grazers ample opportunity to eat up.
- Be consistent
Consistency is key for a solid routine that works. Incorporate transitional songs that signify different parts of the day ending or commencing. Singing during transitions is not only fun for children, but also maximises opportunities for their learning and development. If you want to incorporate more songs into your daily routines, try using these five super popular transitional songs: click here.
Don’t think that routines are all about doing the same old boring things exactly the same each day though. A good routine is more about structure and scheduling – having the expected time to consume a snack or visit outdoors, time for a book, a rest or quiet time to anticipate. Spontaneity and changing things up can be fun too, and in fact is made even more fun because of an existing routine!
Share your tips with us on Facebook for a brilliant routine for 2021 and let’s make this year one to remember!