Schedules and routines are the things you and your family do every day. They happen at about the same time and in the same way. Schedules are your family's main activities, like mealtimes, bath time, and bedtime. Routines are the steps you take to complete each part of the schedule. For example, breakfast may be part of your daily schedule, but there are routines that happen before, during, and after breakfast. These steps might be cooking breakfast, setting the table, serving and eating breakfast, and cleaning up the dishes.
Every family has its own unique routines. There are no rules about how many or what kind of routines you should have.
Schedules and routines are especially important for children because they:
- Are consistent and predictable to help children feel safe, secure, and loved.
- Give children a sense of control over their environment as they learn what to expect and what is coming next.
- Act as a set of instructions or step-by-step guide for helping children successfully get through their day.
- Include having fun or spending time together (e.g., reading books every night at bedtime), which can strengthen family relationships and create special memories.
- Can eliminate power struggles as children learn what to do at certain times of the day, such as cleaning up toys before bedtime.
- Provide comfort and safety for children during stressful and uncertain times.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning
Last Updated: September 5, 2023