Habits we learn when we are young often stick with us for life. There are many areas where we as parents consciously consider this when our children are young. We teach them to brush their teeth and make their beds, speak politely, help with chores, and more.
But, what about schedule habits? Do we ever think of scheduling as a habit to be developed?
In truth, there’s great benefit to teaching even little ones how to establish schedule habits long before we actually teach them how to actively create their own schedules or manage their time. If we do this, it will be much easier for them to live well-scheduled lives as adults, no matter what their planner personalities may be.
Schedule Habits for the Starting Out Stage
Here are some tips for developing schedule habits during the Starting Out stage of learning.
Young children do not yet understand time. Both ancient Egyptian history and mom’s childhood are “a long time ago” and seemingly equal in their minds. They also don’t easily process clock time, but they do thrive on routine.
Building a consistent daily and weekly routine is the best way to start developing schedule habits in your early learner. Your child will learn that there are certain tasks they do first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening.
This will also give them context for time that the clock just doesn’t provide at this age. For instance, instead of saying, “At 2:00, we’re going to have a play date with Riley,” you can say, “After our lunch and naptime routine, we’re going to have a play date with Riley.”
Here are some ways to use routines and other tools to help your child build schedule habits:
- Help your children follow your family routine by posting a schedule on the wall or door of the fridge. For non-readers, use pictures or drawings of daily activities to create the schedule. Even if your children can’t tell time, they can follow the order of the day by looking at the pictures.
- Young children don’t understand the meaning of “five minutes.” Instead of referring to clock times, use a visual timer to give them a tangible representation of time. Countdown timers that use lights are very helpful with this because children can begin to get a feel for how long each color takes to change.
- Purchase an inexpensive clock and use color to mark daily blocks of time, then use the color code to create a schedule of what activities happen during each color/time block. This will help your child begin to grow familiar with the clock and associate color blocks with lengths of time later on.
- Create chore charts and set a routine block each day for all chores to be completed.
- Train children to lay out clothing and any necessary items for the next day before they go to bed.
- Keep a consistent bedtime and wake time as much as possible.
Just as we count with our children before we teach them how to read numbers or read aloud to our children while they look on long before they can discern letters, we can lay foundations of schedule habits long before they can comprehend time management concepts.
The more we help our children build these schedule habits at an early age, the more inclined they will be toward solid time management skills later on in life, no matter how structured or flexible their personalities may be!