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Routines – boring or effective?

The truth of the matter may actually be “both!” Routines are enjoyed by all. None of us, no matter how spontaneous we might believe ourselves to be are without our routines. We use routine to help us cope with those things that are repetitive and for which we don’t want to expend a great deal of time and effort administering. We have our morning routine, our washroom routine, even our tooth-brushing routine. Establishing routines might well be considered a necessary tool in establishing positive mental and physical health.

Routine is essential in education, too ( (if the link doesn’t work for you, refer to the article pasted below). Establishing routines early in the school year will enable the entire family to cope better with the demands of acquiring an education. Routines will help a child grasp more information in a more organized manner thus resulting in more knowledge, and more usable knowledge.

Yet, a life of routine can also dull the senses, fatigue the mind, kill the desire to learn. Some resources are very repetitive always requiring a student to show understanding in the same way or presenting information in the same way. A balance needs to be struck between a learning plan full of routine and a learning plan novel, exciting, and daring.

Try establishing a learning plan with balance – some exciting learning, and some repetitive and routine situations. Talk openly with your child about the needs for routine and novelty. Even young children can grasp the basic concepts when communicated on their level.

And may your efforts be met with much success. See below for the article referenced above.


Routines: Why They Matter and How to Get Started
One of the most important things that you can do to make your young child feel safe
is to establish as much routine in his life as possible. Children (and adults) feel the
most secure when their lives are predictable. When adults provide environments
that feel safe, children learn that they can trust others to take care of them and meet
their needs, so they become free to relax and explore their world.
Young children do not yet fully understand the concept of time, so they do not order
their lives by hours and minutes, but rather by the events that happen. When events
happen in the same order every day, children have a better understanding of their
world, and therefore feel more secure. A regular schedule gives children a way to
order and organize their lives. When young children know what to expect, they
become more confident in both themselves and the world around them. They know
they will not be confronted with unfamiliar tasks that they are for which they are
A young child’s brain is still undergoing major development, especially the part of the brain that is able to plan
ahead and make predictions about the future. A routine helps kids practice making these simple predictions, as
well as understand concepts such as “before and after.” Routines also help children develop self-control
because they know they have to wait until a certain time to do a particular activity. A regular schedule fosters
responsibility and independence because children will be able to perform more activities on their own if they
have done the same activities many times before in the same environment.
A routine is especially important during particularly difficult times of day, such as bedtime or getting dressed in the
morning. When there is a routine in place, there can be little argument because the expectations for behavior are
taken for granted. Therefore, a major benefit of establishing routines is that you will cut down on stress for
yourself. Keeping to a routine may sound like an impossible task when you are overwhelmed with balancing a
constantly changing schedule for multiple members of your household. However, even implementing the
smallest routine can make a big difference. Here are 5 ideas for starting a routine in your home:
1. Plan at least one meal per day that you have together as a family. This meal does not have to be dinner;
even a 15-minute breakfast where everyone gets to share their plans for the day can be effective. Turn off
the television and do not answer the phone during your family time. This is a great way to start a routine
that allows children to take responsibility, even for something small, such as carrying the silverware to the
2. Have a bedtime ritual, which will help children slowly calm down, and allow them to associate certain
activities with getting sleepy. Think about what calms your child. Is it taking a bath? Reading a
story? Listening to soft music? Always do the bedtime preparation in the same order, and ask your child
questions such as, “What do we do after we put on our pajamas?” A great item to include in the bedtime
ritual is that of talking about your day. Let your child tell you what he did that day, and prompt him if he
forgets. This part of the routine not only helps children with memory, time orientation, and language skills,
but it also shows them that you care about what they did that day.
3. Include preparation for transitions in the routine. For example, say, “We have 10 minutes left before we start
getting ready for bed. When the big hand gets to the 12, it will be time to put on your pajamas.”
4. Work together to make pictures that indicate each step of the routine, put the pictures in order on a colorful
sheet of paper, and hang the finished product in your child’s room. You will not only be helping build
creativity in your child, but you will also promote self-sufficiency, as your child will be able to look at the
pictures to identify what step comes next.
5. Although routine is very important for young children, do not be too rigid. Children do need to learn how be
flexible and deal with minor changes. If there is an interruption to the routine, tell your child, “I know we
usually do x, but today we are going to do y because (reason). Tomorrow we will go back to our usual
schedule.” If most of their day is predictable, young children will be able to deal with small changes,
especially if they are prepared for the changes and see you modeling calm behavior as you deal with
problems that occur.
It is never too late to start a routine. You set a good example for your child when you tell her, “The way that we
have been doing things has not been working. We are going to try something new. Here is our new
schedule.” While you should definitely be open to the fact that the schedule may need some adjustment, you also
need to be firm in sticking to the new routine. At first, your child will try to get you to break the routine, but do not
give in to old habits. Young children need both consistency and limits. Know ahead of time that your child will
have difficulty adjusting, and be prepared with how you will handle this resistance.
The earlier that you begin to order your child’s life, the easier it will be. When you stick to a routine, you teach your
child how to arrange her time in a manner that is efficient, productive, and cuts down on stress. This sense of
order is not only important for making your young child feel secure at this moment, but it will also allow your child
to internalize an automatic sense of how to organize her own life as she grows up.


May This School Year Be a Happy Year

On behalf of my wife, Claire, and myself, I want to welcome you to the new school year. I am blessed to have a wonderful partner in this adventure called life, and Claire patiently abides by me as I work from home (our little trailer right now as we build a new home) or pack my cell phone wherever we go (which allows me to work a bit more flexibly). Shortly after taking this picture on a lovely, lonely beach north of Sayward on Vancouver Island, I answered a call from a parent wanting information on her children’s options for education. This flexibility is one of the tremendous opportunities that Distributed Learning gives to students, families, and educators alike. I encourage you to take advantage of it.

The pages of this school year have not yet been written. And last year’s pages have begun to collect dust. So move on. Capitalize on what has worked, leave what hasn’t. Plan for success, plan for work, plan for play. And keep your expectations reasonable. Looking forward, we face the temptation of trying for perfection. Looking backwards, we then realize our lack of success in achieving that perfection. So, why not avoid that temptation of setting ourselves up for failure. Rather, let’s write this year one page at a time, pages written well enough, and pages filled with contentment, joy, satisfaction, love, camaraderie, grace, patience, a few tears and lots of smiles.

My hope and prayer for this year is that students, parents, and staff members will find lots of happiness here at TLA. Whether you are using our Home program, our Blended program, our Online program, or a mix of two or three of these programs to complete your education this year, set happiness as a key goal. Ideally, you want to begin and end each of the pages of the year on a happy note, and when that isn’t possible, realize that whatever is robbing you of your happiness ends that page with a “To Be Continued” which means that tomorrow holds out the promise of happiness returning.