Most of us have several routines that we follow almost everyday. We tend to do the same series of activities when we get up, get ready for bed, bath, leave the house, or arrive at work, just to name a few. These routines become a semi-conscious checklist that helps us to be efficient and gives us a sense of security and normalcy.
In addition to our daily routines, most of us also take some time to review our calendar or think through the day’s events and to-dos. This routine helps us to structure our time and prepare for the day. Certainly, life can throw some curveballs and not everything can be planned. But, generally speaking, we tend to perform better and feel more relaxed when we know what is coming.
The same is true for children. Kids do best when they are comfortable and understand what is expected. Building daily routines and providing a “schedule” of activities can help everyone’s day go better!
Establishing mini-routines for different parts of the day provides structure for a child that decreases anxiety and offers opportunities for the child to master skills and gain independence. Starting these routines at a young age is best. The American Occupational Therapy Association has published several “Tips for Living Life to its Fullest- Establishing Routines For Children” series which explores different considerations in setting up an everyday routine. Find these tip sheets here:
Creating Simple schedules or calendars can also be helpful for kids so they know what is happening on a particular day or week. Younger children will need pictures to symbolize events, whereas older kids, who read, can use a written calendar. Additionally, the schedule or calendar should be placed where the whole family can reference it and see it regularly. The refrigerator is often a good spot.
Schedules can show the actual order of events for a day, or they may just show the special events and to-dos of the day. Think about the amount of structure that your child needs and their understanding of time. Would they benefit from a morning/afternoon/evening, daily, or weekly schedule? Do they need their daily routines included or do they only need reminders for events and to-dos on a particular day? Talk with your kids to get their input on what they might like on a calendar. Below are a couple of examples of different schedules.
If you have concerns about your child’s ability to participate in everyday activities or their ability to follow routines, Enablr Therapy is here to help. Enablr has a team of occupational therapists that specialize in helping children and adults engage in meaningful everyday activities. Contact us to learn more about Enablr Therapy’s services.