Children thrive in a well-ordered and predictable environment, where daily routines such as arrivals and departures, mealtimes, nap times and toileting are dealt with consistently by all caregivers. Daily routines provide opportunities for children to learn more about themselves, the world and other people. Daily routines also offer children a sense of stability, and a feeling of warmth and caring from their teachers. The challenge is to develop appropriate daily routines for children which offer them a sense of consistency and security, yet remain flexible and responsive to the individual needs of each child.
Handling Nap Times
Nap time can present some challenging moments. This routine can either convey warmth and security, or stress and turmoil to children. It's up to the child as to whether or not she sleeps, but it's our job to create a relaxed and quiet rest time. Children often have trouble settling down at nap time because restful sleep is an act of trust. Reasons for restlessness might include a crisis in their lives, excitement about a special event or perhaps a child's temperament makes it difficult for her to settle down. All preschool children need to lie down and relax for awhile, but older children need not sleep. Create a restful mood for children by reading quietly, playing soothing music and rubbing backs.
The Process of Toileting
Going to the toilet is a necessary social skill that most children develop sometime around their second year. The process of toilet learning takes time, understanding and patience. The most important rule is not to rush children into using the toilet. As in all aspects of child care, communication with families is essential. The first step in the toilet learning process is talking with families about their ideas and beliefs. The more we can work in cooperation with families, the smoother toilet learning will be for the child.
The way we handle daily routines is especially important for babies. Through such tasks as feeding and diapering, we communicate to the child that they can trust us, and that we can be relied on to nourish and provide for them. This special bond of trust is called "attachment." Child psychologists assert that the trust and attachments that develop within the first two years of life can determine the emotional future of the child.
Here are some tips that help children develop this bond of attachment:
Practice listening and paying attention to what the baby is telling you---be sensitive to his cues.
Pay attention to your own verbal cues and body language.
Talk to the baby, even though she may not be speaking yet.
Don't rush through daily tasks.
Establish routines that are based on each individual baby's needs.
Hold babies during bottle feeding in order to develop warm, nurturing relationships with them.
In order to establish daily routines, preschool classrooms follow a basic daily schedule. Among other things, a schedule can help to ensure the consistency that young children need and also help teachers encourage all areas of development by planning a wide range of activities. It's helpful to think of a daily schedule as a guide which is responsive to children and teachers. Flexible schedules let us capitalize on those moments that arise when children discover something that interests them. They allow us to extend a play period so the children gain maximum satisfaction from what they're doing. In creating schedules, it is also important to provide a healthy balance for children, between group times and more solitary moments, quiet and noisy activities, indoor and outdoor play.
Transition times are important because they can make the day seem smooth and well-organized, or rushed and unpleasant. Allowing enough time so children make the transition gradually is the best way to avoid stressful situations.
In addition to allowing a realistic amount of time for transitions to take place, it always helps to warn once in advance before a change in activities. This gives the children a chance to finish what they are doing and their cooperation is more likely. It might also help move the process along if we comment favorably about the next activity and avoid situations where all the children are expected to do the same thing at the same time.