According to the developmental experts at the PBS Whole Child website, children do best when their environment is routine and predictable. While your child may have a super-structured day at school, it's equally as important that she have a daily schedule at home as well. Creating a good schedule for kids at home is an easy way to help your child feel secure and understand daily events and expectations.
Early Morning Routine
Avoid the hustle and bustle of the early morning rush to get up and off to school by starting your schedule with this beginning time. Set a wake-up time that leaves plenty of room for all of your child's morning routine activities. For example, if your child has to get on the school bus at 7:45 a.m., getting up at 7:30 won't leave enough time for him to shower, get dressed and eat breakfast without rushing. Depending on how quickly, or slowly, your child moves in the morning, you may want to leave up to an hour of time between when he wakes up and when he leaves for school.
After School Time
When your child gets home from school, don't leave it up to her to decide what she will do for the rest of the day. Given the choice, your child might just choose television time over homework. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids take some time to relax after school before starting homework. Add this time to wind down after school, following it with a designated school work period. If your child has after-school activities on some days, make note of this and adjust the daily schedule to reflect the time that your child will get home from her extracurricular plans.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse notes that having frequent family dinners with your child results in lower rates of adolescent drug, alcohol and tobacco use. Set up a schedule that includes a daily meal time routine. For example, at 6 p.m. your child must help you to set the table and at 6:15 everyone sits down together -- at the dining room table -- to eat and talk about their day. Keep in mind that some events, such as dinners out, social engagements with friends or evening extracurricular activities, may interfere with this part of the schedule. In the case that you have an event or activity at dinnertime, make an adjustment or get back on track the next day.
The child development experts at the Kids Health website suggest that parents establish a regular bedtime. Your family's daily schedule shouldn't just include a set bedtime, but should also have a pre-bedtime routine. This may vary depending on your child's age. For example, your 5 year old's pre-bedtime routine may include storytime with dad and a tuck in, while your 12 year old may like to spend half an hour or so relaxing by himself and reading on his own. While some activities or special events may interfere with your child's specific bedtime, try to stick to the routine and get your child off to sleep close to his set schedule.
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