Managing Changes in a Child’s Routine

photo of three toddlers, one with blonde hair and two with dark hair. they are playing at a water table

Changes in A Child’s Routine: Tips for a Smooth Transition

When seasons change and new activities fill our schedules, maintaining a child’s routine can become challenging. Even if you don’t have children in school, there always seems to be a natural shift in schedules at the end of a school year. Consistency, however, is key to reducing anxiety and fostering a sense of security.

Here are some practical tips to help manage changes in a child’s routine:

Communicate Upcoming Changes: It’s crucial to inform children about any upcoming changes to their routine. Something that might help when you’re doing this is using a calendar with special stickers to mark important dates. This visual aid can help build independence and make the countdown to events more exciting. For instance, if you’re planning a trip to the zoo, place animal stickers on the days leading up to the visit when talking to the child about the upcoming trip. If you don’t think a calendar will work for you, simply sharing the same message regularly about the upcoming change will help.

Keep a Consistent Schedule: Maintaining a consistent schedule, especially regarding mealtimes and bedtimes, helps limit challenging behaviors. Regular routines provide predictability, which can reduce anxiety and promote better behavior. Even when you’re on vacation, it’s a good idea to stick to the same schedule as much as possible to ensure your child gets the rest and nutrition they need.

Encourage Outdoor Time and Limit Screen Time: While it’s easy to rely on screens for entertainment, outdoor activities are vital for a child’s development. Fresh air and sunshine are beneficial for physical and mental health. You can plan and participate in activities like scavenger hunts, park visits, walks, sprinkler play, or bubble-blowing to keep your child active and entertained.

Offer Choices Within Changes: Giving children choices within the changes can help them feel more in control. Allow them to choose their clothes or a toy to bring on a car ride. Keep the options simple to avoid overwhelming them—offering a choice between two shirts is more effective than an entire wardrobe selection.

 

Benefits of Maintaining a Routine:

Decreased Anxiety and Behavioral Issues: Regular routines help decrease anxiety and behavioral problems by providing predictability. Knowing what to expect each day can be comforting for children, reducing stress and improving their overall mood.

Consistent Sleep Patterns: Keeping a regular sleep schedule supports natural rhythms, minimizing bedtime challenges. Adequate sleep is essential, especially during summer when longer daylight hours and increased outdoor activities can disrupt sleep patterns.

Steady Nutritional Intake: Maintaining consistent meal times can help ensure that children receive proper nutrition. During school, children have structured meal breaks. Keeping this routine at home helps them get the necessary nutrients and energy throughout the day.

 

A Couple of Resources:
Outdoor Play vs. Screen Time:

Outdoor play significantly benefits children’s social skills, physical health, and overall well-being compared to screen time. Engaging in nature-based activities fosters creativity, problem-solving skills, and a sense of adventure. For more insights, visit:

Printable Game:  

Enhance your child’s outdoor experience with a fun scavenger hunt. Print the attached game and explore your neighborhood or local park, making the adventure both educational and enjoyable. Check out this Scavenger Hunt Printable


Visual Aids for Creating a Summer Schedule:

Review these sample visuals you can use to create a summer schedule for your kids. These tools can help maintain structure and make the transition smoother.

How We Can Help

By implementing these strategies, you can help your child adapt to changes in their routine while maintaining a sense of stability and comfort. Remember, consistency and communication are key to a successful transition. If you are an educator looking to support a family with managing changes in their routine, or if you are a family member/caring adult who is seeking additional tips and ticks, reach out to your SNR team. Resource Consultants can provide visual supports, stories and other practical strategies that may help to support this process.

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