Having set routines in their lives comforts children of all ages. To the young child, this is absolutely necessary for healthy emotional and social development. Children depend upon the adults in their lives to provide this necessary element. Children learn to trust and enjoy the world when they know what to expect on a daily basis. If there are no set times and routines for heading off to bed, or getting up in the morning, or having a meal, the world can feel like a very unpredictable, and at times, frightening place. To adults, being on the run may be a part of our hectic lifestyle or perhaps even appealing to those spontaneous souls who despise predictability. As parents, or professionals who work with children, however, we must be aware of how important a daily routine is to the young child.
In a Montessori classroom, the child’s day is very predictable. Young children between the ages of three and six are in a very sensitive period for order and routine, therefore the early childhood classroom operates within the same schedule every day. There is a time for the day to begin, and then there are routines that mark the progression and the closing of the day. Children know what to expect in a Montessori classroom and come to depend upon this sense of security. The structure of the class day rarely changes. If you observe a Montessori classroom in action, you will see young children who are very confident, content, happy, and peaceful. This is a direct result of giving children the order and routine that they need at this age. Parents are often amazed to witness their own children behaving in a completely different way in the classroom.
Routines need not be boring! Rituals, or special traditions, provided within the daily routines of our lives, can add warmth and richness, which can make any occasion memorable. Parents might add a written message in their child’s lunchbox every Monday to start out the week in a special way. At home, little rituals can make the difference between a frantic bedtime and a peaceful one. A prayer or special words of love or comfort that are said every night, without fail, after the routine of bath and story time will give your child a sense of comfort and protection at the end of his or her day. Birthdays might be made more memorable by having a special birthday ritual every year; perhaps a caring note or gift left under the bed for the child to find upon awakening.
Try your best to establish routines at home by having a basic schedule for when things occur: waking up, breakfast, brushing teeth, dressing, departure, and so on. If there are enjoyable rituals that go along with the daily routines, then life will be much more enjoyable for all concerned. Your children will develop a strong sense of security and have rich memories to last a lifetime!