Structure and Schedule

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Routines and structure are good for kids. It helps them feel secure, it reduces feelings of uncertainty, and it goes a long way towards minimising the struggle to get your kids to do what you want.

ChildsactivitychartIt is a good idea to have a daily schedule pinned up in the home where everyone can see it. Each child can be mentioned by name, and it’s not a bad idea to put the mothers and fathers schedule in there too, if only to show to the kids that everyone has to live by one.

The next thing to say is that you shouldn’t become obsessed in keeping to the schedule. Most days will have some minor variation from it and on some days you’ll wonder why you ever bothered to make one at all.

When drafting you schedule up, start with the most important fixed points of the day. The time to be out of bed by, breakfast, lunch and dinner times, followed by bed time.

Filling-in the intermediate steps will be relatively easy. Just remember the basics of meal-time: Make them too early and the child won’t be hungry enough to be interested in  keeping still enough to eat. Make them too far after the previous meal and their blood sugar will be low and they will become irritable and uncooperative. I like to make the evening fairly early to give then enough time to wind down for bed.

If any of your children are of school age, it is important to wake them up early enough so that they are not unduly rushed in order to get to school on time. They need a few minutes just to even start thinking of eating. In my experience about half an hour is the minimum time required to come out of the bedroom, eat breakfast, clean teeth and get dressed for school.

Now that you have the major daily milestones down on paper, fill-in the playtimes, nap times and snack times. Please do include a reasonable amount of time outside in the playground or a park. The battle against myopia is one worth fighting

A major benefit of the schedule is that because each transition form one activity to another becomes routine and expected by the child, he or she is much less likely to resist the change. It is still a good idea to give at least a couple of reminders such as “in ten minutes it will be time for your nap, OK?”

Your schedule or routine should include a special time for each child to have one-on-one undivided attention from  a parent. In our case it was supervised bath time and bedtime story telling. Allow at least a half an hour for this. In many ways it will become the most treasured time by both yourself and your child. It is the time when many precious memories are formed.

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