Patterns and patience: developing a routine for your child

Most of us need structure in our lives, and its development begins in early childhood. From a set bedtime routine, to a daily pattern for learning, having structure helps children in so many different ways, one of which is creating the self-discipline that allows them to learn and retain information. 


At school

Having a set timetable at school helps children structure their learning, know what resources they need and prepare for the day ahead. Schools support in the development of this structure by using resources like homework journals or reading diaries. This allows children to track what they have to do and also allows parents to keep a tab on things. Many schools ask parents to sign the journal to foster good collaboration and lines of communication with teaching staff. 


Between school and home

To some extent, how strictly you do this depends on your child. If you know your child is unlikely to remember to write work down, you should inform their teacher(s). The journal should never be empty – if they say they didn’t get any work then they’re possibly forgetting or even fibbing. On the other hand, you may know that your child is perfectly capable of cracking on with their work independently and tracking this yourself is less important. My dad was very sneaky and used to sign my diary a few weeks in advance, so the job was done. He did this knowing and trusting that I would do the work. This trust came from the fact that he helped establish discipline in my early life. 


At home

Having a routine established early is crucial to a child’s educational success. 

It begins with establishing habits like reading every day. Reading before bed time is the perfect way to establish a structure and of course to develop literacy. In older children, such a routine can involve doing their homework as soon as they get in from school – they arrive home, have a snack, do their work and can then switch off for the rest of the evening. 

Developing the notion that children should do work straight away, rather than delaying it, is really important for success in later life. If established at an early age it simply becomes the norm. 

Where possible, it’s great for children to have a set space where they do their work every day and where they can keep their books/resources. If that’s not possible, it can still be established in other ways without causing too much hassle eg. the kitchen table could be used and then cleared away ready for an evening meal.

In the initial stages routines will have to be driven and role modelled by you. That can take patience but the pay off is that your child will establish a discipline, not just for learning, but in other areas of life.