I attended a class this week presented by Xavier and GCCME (Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education). The name of the class was 'Montessori and Special Education-Returning to Our Roots'. The week was so rich with knowledgeable and passionate presenters as well as time set aside to share and learn from other Montessori teachers from here locally as well as out of town. As I reflect and remember, many things are stirring in my heart and mind.
Dr. Thomas Knestrict from Xavier University shared his research on the resiliency of families who are raising a child with special needs. He spoke about the importance of Rules/Routines/Rituals. These are important for all children, but particularly children with learning challenges or special needs. Here is why it's important to establish rules/routines/rituals in your family.
**Rules are important because it establishes order and predictability. Even though children won't always agree with the rule we are asking them to follow, the fact that there are rules that are followed consistently sends a message of security and love.
**Routines are also a way to create structure and predictability. This helps a child organize themselves within a safe framework of people who care about them. From small tasks (setting a table, throwing dirty laundry in the hamper, helping prepare a meal) to larger tasks (mowing the lawn, washing the car, cleaning the house) routines are a way for children to find a rhythm to their lives which again, helps them to feel safe and secure. When everyone knows and understands a routine, it can provide stability for the entire family.
**Rituals are routines with meaning. Rituals bring about connectedness among family members. Rituals help family members attach to each other in healthy, loving ways. They also helps establish a value system in the family. Caring about nightly meals together, or going to church together teaches children what is important and shows that the family is going to stay committed to doing these consistent activities because of what it brings the family.
How can you establish these things with younger children?
~Bedtime routines can be a special time with young babies through school aged children. Establishing a routine that is followed each night is a good idea-bath, story, lights out each night give children an opportunity to relax and prepare for sleep.
~Pick a day each week to go to the library or visit a favorite park.
~Serve something special one particular night a week (Monday is pasta night or Tuesday is taco night).
~Do a monthly give away of toys/books/clothes to a local charity-involve children in this process and routine of giving away.
Decide what is important to your family and help bring order and stability by implementing rules/routines or rituals. I'm quite certain everyone will enjoy the time together!