Children thrive on routines and schedules. When a child has a schedule, they know what to expect, which helps mitigate temper tantrums because they feel comfortable and safe throughout the day. Plus, if you include your child when creating and following their daily schedule, you can give them autonomy and help them learn important life skills that will benefit them for years to come.
In this article, we’ll break down helpful tips so you can learn how to create a schedule for your child or toddler. Plus, you can download our visual schedule template to work with your child to make a great schedule!
- Are schedules important for kids?
- Toddler schedule tips
- Daily schedule for kids
- Daily schedule template
Are schedules important for kids?
Yes, establishing a daily schedule for kids is beneficial for everyone! Not only do schedules help children during times of change, like the back to school transition from summer or winter break and family travels, but also they are extremely useful for both adults and children on a day-to-day basis.
Research shows that “children feel more confident and secure when their daily activities are predictable and familiar.” It helps younger children develop stronger relationships with their caretakers and gain a sense of belonging and autonomy. Plus, children who grow up in environments that maintain schedules can become more independent and adjust to change more easily.
When you describe your child to their teacher at the beginning of a school year, take a minute to walk them through their daily schedule. Does your child always eat a snack at the same time or feel sleepy after lunch? This type of knowledge is important for their teacher to know so that they can take their routine into account when planning their day in the classroom. Likewise, if your child’s school schedule can mimic their home schedule, your child will have an easier time adjusting to school, finding confidence in themselves, and enjoying the experience.
Toddler schedule tips
Being at home with a toddler might make your days feel endless. But, adding a schedule to the mix can help both you and your child feel more comfortable, have fun, and enjoy the day. Here are some toddler schedule tips to help you establish a strong routine for you and your toddler.
- Create a wake up rule. The first step when creating a schedule for your toddler is establishing a morning routine. Toddlers often wake up too early, so if you develop a wake up rule, you can teach them to self-soothe and get a little extra time to sleep for yourself. You can show them how to read the numbers on a digital clock or get one of these red light/green light clocks so they know when it’s ok to get up.
- Establish everyday tasks. You can use images in a toddler schedule chart to show them tasks that they have to do every day, like brushing their teeth and hair, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and so on. Once they realize every morning starts the same, you can avoid tears, negotiations, and tantrums.
- Set schedule blocks throughout the day. Just because children, especially toddlers, thrive on routines does not mean they want to spend every day exactly the same way. Instead, set up schedule blocks that keep the day in a similar pattern but allow for fun and spontaneity. Some ideas can be coloring and art time, outdoor play, playdates and time spent with friends, dress-up and pretend play, and more.
- Don’t fudge snack, meal, and nap times. Keeping your toddler regulated is the name of the game. Don’t allow negotiations or substitutions when it comes to their snack, meal, and nap times. In fact, one of the best toddler schedule tips is to base your schedule around their needs and natural rhythms. Then, you know you are creating the perfect schedule for your child.
- Make bedtime a non-negotiable. Stop your child from begging for 5 more minutes of iPad time at the door. Establish an ironclad bedtime routine and do not stray from it. If you never make allowances, your child will stop asking for them and accept their bedtime routine. It’s better for both of you this way!
Daily schedule for kids
With older children, routines and schedules are still incredibly important. A morning routine before school, an afternoon schedule for homework time, and a nighttime routine that they can do on their own encourages good habits for years to come. You might not realize this, but these are skills that your child will use when they go off to college and become adults themselves. Here’s an example of a daily schedule for kids that you can adapt for your own family.
- Wake up + morning routine. When your child wakes up in the morning should depend on their age, how long it takes them to accomplish their morning tasks, and the time that their school starts. It might take some trial and error to figure out the perfect time and that’s ok. We recommend using a morning routine checklist, at least at the beginning, so that both you and your child know they are getting everything they need done before heading out the door.
- After school and activities homework time. Once your child has finished the school day and whatever after school activities they have on the calendar, they need to return to a routine upon arriving back at home. If your child does not have an after school homework routine, they might fall back on old habits like watching TV and texting with friends. Instead, work with them to come up with a manageable schedule so they get their work done and still have time to relax, unwind, and have a healthy dinner. Maybe that means giving them a snack or their meal when they first arrive home and then making it time for homework or allowing them to watch one 30 minute TV show to relax and then starting homework before dinner. Work together to find the best schedule for your child.
- Nighttime routine. Before hitting the hay, your child should establish a nighttime routine that sets them up for success the next day. They should pack their backpack, make their lunch, prepare their breakfast (if applicable), pick out their clothes for school, and charge their devices. Then, they can practice good habits by reading a book or doing another non-digital activity right before going to bed around the same time each night.
Daily schedule template
Want to work with your child to establish the best schedule? You can download our daily schedule template so you have everything you need!
Get your schedule template
By creating a daily schedule for kids, you and your child should start to feel more relaxed, excited, and confident each day. At Sawyer, our goal is to help children discover their own love of learning. Feeling safe and autonomous is important for children who are looking to experience the wonder and excitement of school as well as extracurricular activities. Here’s to a good night’s sleep and even better day!