New Year, New Focus | A Quality Campaign | Schedules & Routines

Quality Campaign Schedules And Routines

New Year, New Focus– A Quality Campaign for 2023    

  by Jaime Rechkemmer, Vice President of Education 

For the next three months of our Quality Campaign for 2023: New Year, New Focus, we will dive deeper into each of the five areas of concentration. This month, we will study Schedules & Routines more intentionally.  

Creating Routines for Love and Learning

Our friends at Zero to Three suggest that routines provide two key ingredients necessary for learning: relationships and repetition.

For most of us, our lives involve a series of patterns—routines we perform almost every day, like stopping at the same place each day for coffee on the way to work. This is also very true for little learners. While we play a part in creating routines in our children’s lives, we may not fully realize the role they play in young children’s development.

1. Routines help babies and toddlers learn self-control.

  • Consistent routines, activities that happen at about the same time and in about the same way each day, provide comfort and a sense of safety to young children.
  • When children feel this sense of trust and safety, they are free to do their “work,” which is to play, explore, and learn.

2. Routines can reduce power struggles.

  • Stable routines allow young children to anticipate what will happen next. This gives young children confidence and a sense of control.
  • Routines can also limit the amount of “no’s” and behavior corrections you need to give little ones throughout the day, since children can better predict what should happen next: “I know you want a cracker. But it is clean-up time now. Remember, after clean-up, it is snack-time.”

3. Routines guide positive behavior and safety.

  • Routines are like instructions—they guide children’s actions toward a specific goal.
  • Routines can be used for many reasons, but two of the most important are ensuring children’s health and safety, and helping children learn positive, responsible behavior.

4. Routines support and develop children’s social skills.

  • Greetings, good-byes, and chatting with others are examples of routine interactions that teach social skills. These interactions are also opportunities to help our children develop language skills.
  • Play-time and mealtime are two routines that are very social times for children and teachers alike. Through talking, taking turns, sharing toys, learning to wait, and helping others during these activities, young children learn important social skills that will help them later in life.

5. Routines help children cope with transitions.

  • Depending on a child’s temperament, transitions between activities may be easy or more difficult.
  • Routines (like bedtime routines) can help make transitions easier.
  • Some teachers use a timer or a “5-minute warning” to prepare little learners for a change in activity. Others use a book, song, or special game. Special rituals can also help transition a child, such as this routine:

Each day, Leke and his mother count the steps as they walk up to the child care center. They leave his coat and backpack in his cubby. Then they go to the toy area where the other children are playing. Leke picks out a toy. He and his mother exchange “butterfly kisses” and mom waves good-bye.

6. Routines are an important opportunity for learning.

  • Daily routines are often thought of as just “maintenance” activities: mealtime, toileting, rest time, and learning center play. But these everyday actions are rich opportunities to support children’s learning and development, while having fun.
  • Routines offer the chance to build self-confidence, curiosity, social skills, self-control, communication skills, and more.


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