Friday, March 9, 2012

Routines, Schedules, Predicability

"One of the first essentials for any adult who wishes to help small children is to learn to respect the different rhythm of their lives instead of trying to speed it up, in the vain hope of making it synchronize with ours."
—E. M. Standing, Maria Montessori, Her Life and Work

Children have a developmental need for order that is present through age 2.5, but can stretch out to age 5 depending on the child.  Having routines in place can help a child feel secure and know what to expect.  Having a set bedtime routine is a great way to end the day-bath, brush teeth, story, then bed can be a great connecting time for you and your child as well as a time for a child to settle down and know you are preparing for sleep time by going through the predicable steps.  Your family may have routines on the weekends like pancakes on Saturday, or church on Sunday.  These rituals serve as routines and structure as well.  Children understand and know that these things are important to the family and important to set in place to bring a balanced rhythm to their lives vs. chaos and unpredictability. 

In the Montessori classroom, our prepared environment brings much needed routine, consistency, and security to a child.  They feel confident and can build their confidence walking through the steps and routines of their day knowing what happens regularly.  The materials themselves satisfy children's need for order-materials are beautifully place onto trays or baskets with everything needed to complete the work.  There are the correct number of items for each work so that are not too few or too many, again satisfying a child's need for order and structure.   When children know what to expect or know the plan, then they are free to concentrate and focus on their work.  This leads to what Montessori called 'normalization'.  Montessori believed that the state of concentration and the ability to focus and work is the true 'normal' state of children and the is free to develop in the prepared environment of a Montessori classroom.  We also have established rules in place that children understand are for their safety and to support respect for the materials and all children in the environment.  These set of rules help the children feel safe and know that they are respected and cared for at their school.  

If your child is struggling with temper tantrums or other behavior that may indicate they are feeling disorganized or unsure of themselves, think about a routine or two you can put in place.  If your child is old enough, you can even talk with them about it.  Regarding bedtime the conversation might sound like this~'I've noticed that you've been having a hard time going to bed and settling down at night.  What two things would you like to do together before you go to bed that might help you get ready?'.....this could be share a snack, read a story, take a walk, watch a favorite show.  Once two things are chosen, walk through those things with your child prior to bedtime and see if that helps them settle down at all.  

Routines and predictable steps can be supportive for children's emotional and developmental growth and health.


  1. I loved this post! I like that you articulated so well how routines and predictability help children to do and BE their best!

  2. Thank you for your comment! I appreciate hearing what others are thinking about.