Routines make children feel safe

January 6, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – Routine, the Count 5 campaign topic for January, is the true key for a healthy child, says therapist Sam Fryer.

Fryer is based at Williams Middle School School.

“Routines make children feel safe,” Fryer said. “Research shows that routines make them feel safe. Secondly, they develop mentally because they learn habits; they learn structure and they learn control.”

Children below 5 years of age are developing their personalities, and routines allow for children to develop peacefully and calmly, Fryer said.

By the time children get to school, if they’ve had routine, they are open to learning.

“When they have routine, they’re open to learning, and when they are open to learning they are open to growth,” Fryer said. “when they are open to growth, they develop into healthy adults.”

At the Child Development Center at Woods Road, child development teacher Crystal Gause practices a routine each day.

Through the use of a visual message board, Gause uses pictures that represent tasks to teach the students their classroom routine.

“At the beginning of the year, we rely on and refer to it very heavily,” Gause said. “Now, we don’t have to as much.”

According to Gause, the students know various tasks, such as placing their take-home folder in a basket at the beginning of the day and hanging their book bags and coats up at the beginning of their day.

The children have breakfast each morning in the classroom, which is a Child Development Center practice.

In Gause’s classroom, there’s one table that has to move for all the students to eat together. Gause said because the students who eat at the table have learned the routine of helping move chairs after breakfast, the students already know to assist in moving the chairs without being asked.

“They know we do that because we do it every day,” Gause said.

Gause said with the schedule, students take a few weeks to adjust, but after they’ve adjusted they are good with the schedule. She also said there are minimal behavioral problems in the classroom.

Students who do not have routines at home have a harder time adjusting to them at school, are all over the place and not good at waiting, Gause said.

Gause’s visual schedule is an idea she incorporated at home with her own children. Her children have morning and evening routines. She said it has made her children more independent and they’re able to get ready on their own.

Carver Elementary parent Brittany Terrio also has a routine she incorporates with her 7-year-old and 2-year-old children.

Terrio, who is a stay-at-home mother, built her schedule around her older son’s school schedule to fit her family’s needs after her second son’s birth.

“I knew that with my oldest one, I struggled with the first year trying to find a schedule that would be good for us,” Terrio said. “I used to have to rock him for the whole first year just to put him to sleep, and it was just exhausting. I said with my second one, I’m not going to do that again.”

Terrio said she did a lot of research while developing her schedule, and a lot of the websites she found suggested making the routine personalized. Terrio started a routine with her youngest son when he was 3 weeks old.

With the routine, Terrio’s children go to bed easily, they don’t have many meltdowns and know their schedule, she said.

“Honestly, it wasn’t hard for me to put them into that schedule,” Terrio said. “Kids, in my opinion, crave routine.”

Terrio decided to put them on the routine to ensure they got enough sleep at night, which it has helped, she said.

If parents are busy and struggle to put their children on a routine, it is important to find a routine for themselves to provide that for their children, Fryer said.

“Once the kid sees that you’re calm because you have a routine, it flows to the child because he or she sees it in the parent,” Fryer said.

Parents who are seeking help with developing a routine for their children can look to the teachers to find out what problems their children are having and come up with a plan for that student, Fryer said. If a parent needs more assistance, school counselors can work with students individually and school-based therapists can work with parents and teachers to come up with a plan.

Though it is an uphill battle to find routine, it is important to provide that for children because it offers them a sense of security, Fryer said.

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