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MAY 2010

Routines: Make Life a Little Bit Easier

Establishing routines helps you and your household run more smoothly, with less work and less stress. Routines help families accomplish daily tasks with ease and have many long-term benefits. Routines are the building blocks that teach children the lessons they need to handle all sorts of changes and transitions in their lives. By teaching your child the importance of routines, you are instilling self-discipline and responsibility, establishing good habits and supporting independence.


can be challenging for any family, but with the right routines and a positive attitude, mornings and evenings can run much more smoothly. Experts advise parents to generally allow about 10 days to two weeks for their family to get used to a new routine. Children learn through repetition, so if you feel like a new routine isn't working, you probably haven't given it enough time -- stick with it! Studies have found that establishing routines has as much of a positive effect, if not more, on the parent's well-being as the child's. Start creating daily routines using the suggestions in this newsletter, and enjoy the pay-off for both your child and yourself.

when their lives are predictable. Your toddler probably likes to read the same book or watch the same DVD over and over again. Knowing what is coming next gives a sense of security and control, and in turn, helps your child be more cooperative.

· ORDER VERSUS TIME. Developmentally, preschoolers do not

Morning Routines

Trying to get everyone dressed, fed and out the door in the morning can make for a chaotic time. The more efficient your routine, the easier your family's morning activities will be.

understand the concept of time, but they do understand that certain events take place in a certain order. For instance, we wake up, get dressed, eat our breakfast, brush our teeth and then go play outside. Do not worry as much about what time everything happens, but instead focus on the order in which you do things every day.

· FAMILY BENEFITS. Every family member can benefit from

Tips for Streamlining Morning Tasks:

· PLAN AHEAD AND ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME. Simplify your morning

routines. Routines enable each person to direct his or her mental and emotional energy where it is needed, making it easier to learn new things, get through difficult situations and deal with other stress that is out of the ordinary or out of your control. Maintaining order and following routines makes kids feel more safe and secure. Routines give children a sense of control over their tiny piece of this great big world.

tasks by planning ahead as much possible. Allow for extra time so you don't feel stressed. Lay out clothes, prepare backpacks and organize bag lunches the night before-- you'll have more time to pay attention to the essentials in the morning.


Too many choices are overwhelming and prolong decisionmaking. Instead of trying to talk your child out of wearing a Spiderman or Cinderella costume, ask, "Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue one?" Simplify breakfast by asking, "Would you like cereal or toast?" instead of, "What would you like for breakfast?"

· TURN OFF THE TV. Avoid this distraction altogether so that

Establish Routines For Your Family

The most important times to establish routines are weekday mornings and bedtime. Getting through these daily activities

you don't have to face arguments about "wanting to finish watching this show."

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For more information, visit us online at / brightstart

Nemours BrightStart!News

MAY 2010

Routines, continued from page 1

Parent as Child's First Teacher Initiative

The "Parent as Child's First Teacher" Initiative is funded by the Early Learning Coalition of Duval County and is designed to encourage, honor and support parents in their role as their child's first teacher. Episcopal Children's Services, Nemours BrightStart! and United Way of Northeast Florida team up to offer free parent training sessions at various sites across the community and family involvement for child care centers.


comforted by knowing who will pick them up and if any activities are scheduled. If Grandma is picking up, let your child know. She'll be able to look forward to seeing Grandma, instead of being surprised.

Bedtime Routines

First and foremost, establish a reasonable bedtime routine and stick to it. In Guide to Your Child's Sleep, the American Academy of Pediatrics states,"It's almost impossible to overstress the importance of a calm, orderly bedtime routine."

FREE Parent Education Workshops

Make plans to attend Nemours BrightStart!'s free parent education workshops where you can meet with other parents and caregivers of young children, as well as child health and development experts from Nemours to discuss topics such as: · June 8, 2010 ­ Get Ready for Summer ­ Health, Safety and Nutrition All workshops are held from 6:00 ­ 7:30 p.m. Reserve your space today, call Blair Blackard at (904) 697-3156 or e-mail [email protected] You may also register online at CHILDCARE IS NOT PROVIDED ­ please help us support the adult learning environment by making other arrangements for your children.

Tips for Streamlining Bedtime:


Your nighttime routines may include: bath, pajamas, a glass of milk, brushing teeth, getting into bed, reading a story or two and then lights out. Always do these in the same order so that your child knows what to expect and that once these activities are done, it's time for bed.

· DON'T DRAG IT OUT. Don't let your child drag out her

Born Learning Workshops

Make learning fun and take advantage of everyday moments for learning with your pre-school child with United Way's Born Learning workshops. Workshops are free, and all participants will receive fun items such as a "Kids Basics" key ring and playbook to take home. For more information, call United Way of Northeast Florida at (904) 390-3225, or visit

bedtime routine by continuing to ask for water, snacks or to use the bathroom. If your youngster keeps finding excuses to get up, walk her back to bed, assure her that you are there and everything is okay. Remind her that she has gone through the bedtime routine and it's time for lights out.

· GIVE WARNING. Give your child a heads-up before

bedtime, such as, "10 more minutes to play before it's time to get ready for bed."

· ESTABLISH SEPARATION. A good bedtime routine helps your

child learn how to handle separation and understand that you always come back.

· STICK WITH IT. By sticking to the same times and steps,

Guiding Stars of Duval

Episcopal Children's Services and the Jacksonville Children's Commission are providing support and training in family involvement to child care centers in Jacksonville as part of the city-wide Quality Rating Improvement System for child care centers. Contact the Early Learning Coalition of Duval County to learn how you can find star ratings for local child care centers at (904) 208-2040 or visit

you and your child will get in the habit before you know it. There will be less fighting and whining, and hopefully much better sleep, which helps every family's well-being.

Handling Transitions ­ Large and Small

Routines are critical components in helping children learn how to handle both small and large transitions. As adults, we often forget how challenging it can be for a young

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Nemours BrightStart!News

MAY 2010

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child to get through everyday tasks. Seemingly simple things like moving from inside to outside, outside to lunch, lunch to naptime, playtime to bath time, or home to child care, can be especially hard for young children. Meltdowns and defiance are common behaviors when children do not have time to transition to a new activity or environment. As parents, we need to make a conscious effort to reinforce routines and allow ample time for transitions, no matter how large or small.

Before School Starts:

· TALK ABOUT WHAT TO EXPECT. Start talking with your child

about preschool long before the first day. Tell him about the activities to expect, many of which will be the same ones he enjoys at home, such as coloring, playing with new toys, singing songs and reading stories.

· SHOW ENTHUSIASM. Be excited about your child going to

school, even if it is scary for you. The more calm and assured, yet enthusiastic you are about sending him, the more confident he will be.

· GET TO KNOW THE SETTING. Visit the classroom a few times

The Transition to Preschool

One of the biggest transitions every young child faces is going to preschool. This process is usually accompanied by a predictable set of emotions for both parent and child. For a child, unfamiliar teachers and classmates can cause both anxiety and anticipation. For parents, there may be hesitation about whether the child is ready for preschool, and whether they themselves are ready for the separation. You can ease these concerns by making your child more familiar with what to expect and taking steps to become more comfortable with your own decision.

before school starts to make both of you feel more at ease. Meet your child's teacher together, find out about common activities and maybe even practice some of them at home before school starts. Encourage your child to look around and explore the classroom so that he feels more comfortable on the first day.

The First Day of School:

· BE ON TIME. Be sure that you are on time the first day, so that

neither you nor your child feels rushed.

· SHOW THAT YOU TRUST THE TEACHER. Let your child see that you

like and trust his teacher so that he will feel happy and safe in his/her care.

· SAY GOODBYE. Many children will tear up and cling to their

Create a Routine Chart

Create a tangible reference point such as a routine chart to provide children with order and a visible reminder of tasks to be accomplished. Make the routine chart with your child -- be creative and encourage your child to decorate the chart. Place it somewhere that is easily accessible to everyone and refer back to it often. When your child doesn't want to leave his game to brush his teeth or put on his pajamas, refer back to the chart and say, "Look, the routine chart says we should do this next." A routine chart can minimize many power struggles and temper tantrums.

parent when it's time for mom or dad to leave. Always say goodbye to your child, and then leave right away. Sometimes parents want to avoid a scene by leaving without saying goodbye, but consider that doing this may make your child feel abandoned.

· BE BRIEF. Don't drag out your departure, as this might

strengthen a child's fear that preschool is a bad place. For some kids, bringing a favorite blanket or doll can help ease the anxiety. Keep in mind that children usually adjust quickly and do very well once their parents leave. Preschools organize their days by a very set schedule, followed every day in the same order. There's good reason behind these clear-cut daily routines -- they work!


This Month's Parenting Improvement Activity:

Make These Routines Work For You, Too

Keep a journal in the space below and record new activities you have used from this newsletter. How have they helped you and your family?

© 2005 -2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.

BrightStart!News is sponsored in part by The Early Learning Coalition of Duval County.




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