Sounds boring, I know…
But, having a fairly rigid schedule can do wonders for a growing brain, and certainly does not have to be boring.
How can having a routine improve brain function?
Well, there are many things that go through our minds at any one moment. For a child, we want that to be filled with curiosity and wonder, and not of concern as to what is going to happen next, or where my sock is.
There are 24 hours in a day. Eleven of those should be for sleeping. That leaves 13 hours of potential scheduling. Use the time wisely and efficiently, and plan ahead for even the smallest of tasks. This will give the proper environment for optimal brain growth and development.
Some parents argue that spontaneity is the spice of life. Perhaps for some, but for growing brains, spontaneity should be scheduled in, so to speak. Children need a routine. They thrive on a routine. This includes a wake up time, a breakfast routine, a tooth brushing routine, a bed making routine, getting dressed, etc… There should be consequences for not following the routine to one degree or another, and rewards for following it well.
Without a routine, days are more chaotic, more rushed, more stressed, and brain power is used for useless thoughts like what to do next to get out the door for school/sports/events/etc.
In highly efficient, stress free offices, schedules are written down and followed. Checklists are used so that nothing gets forgotten, but also to free the mind of having to think of everything for each task. Even after years of doing it, they still use checklists. It really works! Don’t waste precious brain space on the everyday stuff! Write it down and follow it.
In addition to a routine, all things should be prepared well in advance, such as homework done and placed neatly in backpack before the bus comes. There should be no rushing for homework, and frantically looking for a pencil. The homework should be done on schedule and the pencil should be in the pencil spot because it was returned there after last day’s homework (checklist). Everything should have a place and be consistently returned to it's place. The less brainpower used to look for that pencil, the more brainpower can be used for thinking deeply about the homework assignment.
The less thought needed to frantically decide what to wear in the morning could simply be alleviated by having the clothes laid out as part of your evening routine. Make breakfast the night before. Get lunches prepared as much as possible in advance. Less stress in the morning means a better learning environment for your child all day long.
Preparation and planning are key.
We all have a maximum brain or learning capacity in a day. Let’s keep that capacity available for learning.
Just so you don’t think I am zero fun, be sure to schedule an open time. Decide together what to do, decide and surprise, or let your child decide. Whichever way you choose, let your child know that it is part of the schedule and it is coming up so that they can anticipate or prepare for the event. Could be a bike ride, swimming, or a hike...
All in all, preparing ahead and following a detailed routine will help your child become more calm, less stressed, more alert and ready to learn, and…