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Family routines can help things become more organized, get more accomplished and keep things from becoming chaotic. Children as well as adults can benefit from routines at home. Children need the predictability and regularity that routines can bring. However, some need more or less routine structure than others.

Routines that are appropriate to the children’s developmental stages can promote self-confidence, independence and feelings of empowerment.

Consistency is key to making a successful routine work. For younger children, it may be helpful to create a visual chart that has photos of the steps involved in completing the routine. Be sure to keep the steps simple and try not to list too many. Stick to the routine as much as possible, but remember to be flexible when unexpected changes to your schedule come up.

Maybe it’s a morning routine that your family is in need of to get each day started on the right foot. Remember, keep it simple. First a positive wake-up, not everyone is a morning person, so make sure to leave enough time for each child to wake up as they need to. Rushing first thing in the morning can be stressful and make some less willing to be as helpful. Next step could be bathroom and brush teeth. Follow this by getting dressed. (It can save a lot of time in the morning if clothes get picked out the night before.) Once dressed, it’s time for breakfast.

Nighttime routines can help bedtimes go more smoothly. When children know what the steps are and that the steps are followed consistently each evening it helps them to feel safe and secure. They are able to predict what is next. Try using these few steps each night to ease into bedtime:

  • Pick up toys
  • Have bedtime snack
  • Get pajamas on
  • Brush teeth
  • Read bedtime stories
  • Time to say good night

Just like the morning and nighttime routines are helpful for very young children, there are other routines that can be helpful for school-age children. School-age children need routines that are also appropriate to their age and the tasks that need to be completed. They can have routines for putting away their own laundry, helping to care for the family pet and getting their homework done or preparing their backpack for the next day of school.

How about a meal time routine? Depending on the age of your children, there could be some things that they can do to help with meal times, especially dinner time in the evenings as that is usually the best time for the whole family to get together. Be sure to choose age-appropriate tasks for children. Have children set the table. When dinner is ready, have everyone sit at the table together. This is a great time to see how everyone’s day went, share stories and just communicate with each other. Once dinner is finished, children can help clear the table. This makes clean-up time go much quicker, leaving time for other things in the evenings.

It’s pretty clear that routines are important for children of any age. But how are routines helpful for parents? Everyday life can be less hectic when routines are followed, which will lower stress levels. As children improve on doing the routines by themselves, they will need fewer instructions and constant reminders from the grown-ups in the home. And, you’ll be reassured as a parent that you are teaching your children to be capable and confident at any age.

Children are mirrors; they reflect back to us everything we say and do. We now know that 95% of everything children learn, they learn from what is modeled for them. Only 5% of all they learn is from direct instruction. Human beings are like tape recorders. Every word we hear, everything we experience, is permanently recorded in our subconscious. Whenever adults speak, we are being role models for the children in our presence. What we speak is what we teach. Children record every word we ever say to them or in front of them. The language children grow up hearing is the language they will speak.

How to Use Creative and Unconventional Containers in your Classroom

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Containers are essential components to any early childhood classroom. Available in many sizes, shapes, and colors, containers are used to store, hold, and tote a variety of learning materials and supplies. In fact, they are such a commonplace classroom element that rarely a second thought is given to them, especially after being placed on the shelf. Containers, however, are much more than bins and baskets. This article will help you think about containers from a different perspective: What if the primary job of containers in the classroom is not to just hold learning materials and objects but rather to intentionally spark children’s interest and engagement with the contents? Use the 4 C’s of Container Selection below for guidelines, inspiration, and getting started in selecting your classroom containers.

referralWhen it comes to parenting or working with toddlers, it’s hard to know what normal behavior is. Toddler brains and bodies are developing at such a fast pace it can be hard to keep up! Your toddler might be able to say full sentences and communicate his or her needs, but reasoning and rationalizing isn’t a part of their skill set quite yet. It can be challenging to predict your toddler’s wants, needs and behavior in this stage of development. One thing is certain, however: Toddlerhood brings a lot of exciting new skills and challenges.

During this phase of development, it’s important to keep in mind that the determination a toddler has to learn and take in new information can be a powerful influence on behavior as well. You might hear “I do it myself!” as your developing toddler wants to feel autonomy and empowerment as they work on building new skills. Parents and caregivers might want to plan for longer and slower transitions as the developing toddler tries out his or her independence while moving from one activity, or place, to another.

High levels of activity and short attention spans are typical behavior for the ever-growing and changing toddler. Parents and caregivers are often surprised to learn that the typical toddler has a much shorter attention span than one might assume.

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