8 Steps to Ease your Pre-schooler into a Routine
Now that your little one is schooling, their regular daily schedule has changed completely. This could be a huge disruption unless you manage your child’s schedule and set up a stable routine to help ease them into the transition.
1) Start slowly
“You can’t do it in a day,” says Emmy Nyawira, mother to a set of twins aged 6. To get her children into a routine, she started by making sure that they both did their homework as soon as they got home each day. Following a bath and story she began to push their bedtime to an earlier time daily.
2) Get them to eat early
Having the evening meal early is good for routine setting because it allows the children plenty of time to unwind and get ready for bed. Involving the children in a relaxed manner also reduces resistance on their part. Maureen Oira, a pre-school teacher at Jihada Kindergarten in Komarock, Nairobi advises: “5 – 6:30 pm would be an ideal dinner time for a child aged between 3 and 9. This way, they can be in bed by 7.00 or 8 pm and get the required 10-12 hours of sleep before they wake up to get ready for school.”
3) Full bellies
Healthy snacks prior to dinner ensure that your children go to bed with full tummies. You can feed them yoghurt, smoothie or full-fat milk, a boiled egg or some fruit. Choose snacks from food groups which the child did not eat much during the day.
4) Fixed bed time
The success of the whole routine is heavily hinged on sleep. Inadequate sleep will affect your children’s moods, making them irritable or hyper. This means that you make it a family priority. Set and stick to a particular bed time every night. Keeping a consistent bed time will regulate his internal body clock. After a while, when it gets to the set time, you will notice them dozing.
5) What should you do with your child?
The routine you choose for your child at bed time can consist of taking a bath, brushing teeth, changing into pajamas, reading a bed time story, prayers or affirmations and getting tucked into bed. Include activities that allow you to spend some time with the child while having meaningful positive interactions and conversations. It should not be too rushed. Get both your partner and your nanny on board so that they do not deviate.
6) Lay out everything the night before
It will help your mornings if you make sure that clothing and school uniforms are ready the night before. Read and sign the school diary, check the clothes, pack all equipment and kit in the school bag and set the alarm before going to bed.
7) Potential disruptions
As your little one’s imagination develops they are likely to experience nightmares, night terrors or random awakenings. “From infancy I taught my children to get back to sleep on their own if they woke up at night,” Shares Doris Wanjiku, a mother of 3 aged between 10 and 17. If he wakes up at night, as long as he is safe, do as little as possible and he will learn to soothe himself back to sleep.
8) Consistent morning routine
Listing down the things that he needs to do each morning, allocate the amount of time each task will take and draw up a pattern. This works well if you teach your child to do each task as independently as possible. The routine is likely to stick if he feels a sense of responsibility. Just like the evening routine, write it down and post it on a surface he sees everyday. Be patient and give plenty of commendation, praise and even rewards. Do not nag or scold your child. Getting ready for school will become a seamless, pleasant experience.