Routines with your child provide the two basic ingredients necessary for learning: relationships and repetition. For most adults, our daily lives involve a cycle of patterns which are routines we perform almost every day. Such as waking up and making our morning coffee. This is also true for babies and toddlers. 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.
Routines help young children learn self-control
Consistent routines provide comfort and a sense of safety. Knowing what will happen next give babies and toddlers security and emotional stability whether it is time for a snack, playtime, or time for a parent to return. They learn to trust that caring adults will provide what they need. Feeling trust and a sense of safety, allows them to do their “work,” which is to play, explore and learn.
Routines can ease power struggles
Stable routines allow babies and toddlers to anticipate what will happen next. It is time for bed which comes shortly after brushing their teeth and reading a story. It can limit the number of “no’s” you give your child throughout the day because they can better predict what will happen next.
Routines are an important opportunity for learning
Everyday activities: meal time, running errands, getting ready for bed and taking baths are opportunities to support your child’s learning and development. Routines offer the chance to build self-confidence, curiosity, social skills, self-control, communication skills and much more. An example: while grocery shopping with your baby or toddler, give them the language with each item you put in your cart. A red apple, green lettuce, orange carrots. Let’s put five red apples in a bag. Can you help me count them?
Routines help children cope with transitions
Depending on your child, transitions between activities may be difficult. Going from play to lunch, lunch to running errands and especially transitioning to bed can be a challenge. Having a routine can help make the transition smooth. Use a song, book or a game to prepare them for a change in activity.
Routines provide the two key ingredients for learning: relationships and repetition. So enjoy these “ordinary” moments with your child. If she’s having fun with you, she’s learning, too!