• Conversations with Dr. Donna

    Routines during Recess

    Dr. Donna Housman       

    It’s the season for winter breaks. This is the longest break of the school year. Up until this point, your child has acclimated to a schedule which includes bedtimes, breakfasts, drop-offs, nap times, and pickups. This has become natural for children; it is how things go for them throughout the day. But for the next two weeks or so, things will change.

    During the holidays, it’s important for parents to be mindful of schedules and structure; routines are designed to instill a sense of stability and organization, leaving our children feeling more secure in knowing what to expect.

    At school, children also have a routine and participate in all sorts of activities, where they are free to experience each moment to its fullest. All rooms have their own schedules. A schedule of events builds that important sense of organization that leaves children feeling secure.

    During this school recess, try to keep the main events of the day (meal times, bedtimes, bath times , etc.) constant within reason. I understand several of you may be traveling and schedules may get disrupted, but your patience and allegiance to home schedules will help your child feel more calm and secure.

    This is a memorable time for families, and it’s important for children to be as well-rested and comfortable as possible. When there is no sign of a schedule, children can become dis-regulated, cranky, and irritable. These are all cases that take up important energy—energy that could be used instead for enjoying their new experiences.

    Now when it comes time to go back to school, prepare your children a few days in advance. Perhaps you can count down the days with your child, and cross off the days until school starts again on a home calendar together. Re-introduce teachers and classmates in conversations from time to time. Prepare them for what is ahead, and tell them you have had so much fun together, but it is time to go back to school to see their friends again. The transition back to school from a winter break may remind you of what the very first day of school was like, but these practices that are helpful all year long can make for a smoother transition.

    I hope the holidays bring you and your families much joy, peace, and memorable moments together. See you in 2015!

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