Every time I have done a classroom management training or parent workshop, the question always comes up, why it is that children need to have a routine chart or daily schedule posted when adults don’t need one? They wonder, isn’t this just a form of coddling?
In reality, the truth is that most adults rely on lists, planners, schedules, and appointment books to help them keep track of what they want or need to do during the day, week, month, or year. Many people create vision boards or goal lists just to increase their motivation and encourage their sense of resolve. Children are no different.
Having routine charts at home and schedules in the classroom is a great way for children to visualize and gain a better sense of rhythm. Allah created this world with such impeccable orderliness. Muslims are commanded to live rhythmic lives, with our day revolving around the five daily prayers, and our months and years revolving around important Eids and blessed months such as Shahr- Ramadhan. Being routine-oriented and orderly is part of our spiritual development.
“Being routine-oriented and orderly is part of our spiritual development.”
Any teacher or veteran parent can tell you that kids thrive off routine. One of the most challenging things adults have to deal with is the constant stream of questions about what we are doing next, or constantly reminding kids “Time to brush your teeth, time to clean up, time to go for lunch, etc.” Using routine or schedule cards in the classroom and home help kids feel like they have a sense of what is happening next, which helps them feel calm and empowered.
Imagine waking up each day and having no idea what is happening, no idea what you should do, if you have any important meetings or appointments, etc. It’s a bit bewildering, right? Well, little ones are no different. That’s why around age 2.5 they start to constantly ask you, “What are we doing next?” “When are we going to the park?” The constant back and forth of questions and answers can be exhausting for all parties involved.
“The concept and perception of time is very abstract for children. It’s a notion that builds up slowly and progressively, by experiencing it.”
If that is not convincing enough, here are some educational insights to help hammer it in:
- Routine cards allow children to develop a sense of time by visualizing the succession of events during the particular times of the day.
- Routine cards allow children to represent time, which is highly abstract, through a very concrete medium with a spatial representation. It helps represent the present, past and future and see how they relate to one another.
- The concept and perception of time is very abstract for children. It’s a notion that builds up slowly and progressively, by experiencing it. Studies show that even infants develop a sense of time through predictive patterns like sleeping and feeding. Babies and young toddlers’ understanding of time develops through routines. They expect milk, bath and snuggle before bedtime. Therefore, the first step you can take as parents to help your children grasp this abstract concept is through fairly consistent daily routines.
- Neuroscientists have shown that children’s prospective perception of time (how fast or slow things seem to be as we live them) actually feels longer to them than adults. This is because their neural transmission is slower than adults since their brains’ connectivity is not fully developed yet. So, if your 4 years-old tells you brushing teeth takes too long, it might actually feel that way to him/her! Be compassionate, but firm on brushing of course 🙂
I have created a collection of over 40 daily routine cards, including both morning routine and bedtime routine cards, meant especially for toddlers through age 10. I’ve included things that are unique to raising little Muslims like Quran, Salat and more. There are blank cards provided so that you can customize the cards to work for your family or classroom. You can use the pieces you need and like, and skip on the ones which might not pertain to you. To get your free download, just subscribe to the mailing list and it will be delivered to your inbox as soon as your subscription is confirmed.
Remember to post the chart or schedule in an easily visible place. Let the chart become the boss. Also, keep in mind that the schedule will grow and change with the age of children/students. In the early years, visual representation for each item on the schedule is important, while in the later childhood years they might want to have a simple whiteboard and handwrite the schedule without any pictures.
InshAllah I hope you find this useful and helpful! If so, please remember to share the love by sharing.