Sometimes it feels like I’m approaching a coiled copperhead when I go to tell my child that it’s time to come inside and get into the bath. And when I feel this way, I know it is time to loosen the string and bring our routine charts into the forefront again.
Lucas’s morning and bedtime routines are his responsibility. He needs to own them. Charts put the routines back into his hands, both physically and symbolically. It’s simple and it works!
We first adopted routine charts when he turned five at the beginning of the year.
I drooled over a couple of adorable, rustic ones on Etsy and was ready to fork over some money for the perfect, aesthetically-pleasing solution. And then – lightbulb! Kids do not need things to be perfect! And thus, the simple routine chart was born using Microsoft tables. Easy to create, no problem to adapt and Lucas digs it.
1) Make them with your child.
This is a must! I let Lucas choose the pictures. If there is flexibility, he helps with the sequencing. If not, we think through the sequence together and he sees that putting on his pajamas before bath time does not make sense.
Revisiting the order or changing pictures occasionally can make things fresh and fun for your child.
2) NO rewards or punishments! Talk about a black hole!
Oftentimes, when children feel they are participating and have ownership, they will begin to enjoy the routine. There is no need for dangling carrots or whips.
However, there are several fun things that Lucas looks forward to after he is ready for bed – stretching, books and stories. We try to set him up for success, but sometimes we don’t have time for all of these things which becomes a natural consequence.
3) Keep it simple.
Include only what is necessary. It doesn’t have to be extraordinarily detailed.
4) Keep it fun!
A chart can contribute greatly in developing more peaceful routines. But it’s good to keep things interesting in other ways.
Get on an imaginary train to brush teeth or do it with your child. Time kids to see how quickly they can get their pj’s on…
Your child is a free-spirit with an internal compass. Offer support, and stay positive!
Here is a copy if you want to cut and paste your own steps into it:
ROUTINE CHART DOWNLOAD
I’ll leave you with some inspiration from The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori:
“Children decide on their actions under the prompting of natural laws. Adults do it by taking thought. If the child is to exercise this power, it is clearly necessary that he be not directed by someone telling him what to do at every moment of his life. Inner forces affect his choice, and if someone usurps the function of this guide, the child is prevented from developing either his will or his concentration. So if we want him to acquire these traits, the first thing we must do is to make him independent from the adult. Besides this, the child’s own strongest instinct is to free himself from adult control and this is very logical as we can see by the purposes it serves. But the child does not act from logic, he acts by nature. It is nature which marks out the path he must follow.“