Structure and Routine – The Solution for Managing the Current Instability in our Children’s Lives
It’s definitely a time of … instability. As adults, children (yes even the teenagers who question just how much we know) look to us for answers. Answers, solutions or a simple no or yes though not always appreciated, bring a certain certainty to life. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many adults have been found in that difficult place of not being able to provide the sense of security that comes about from knowing and telling the younger ones what to expect next.
There is a mounting level of stress on individuals and the family unit as a whole. Life has taken a turn for the unimaginable. Even those who don’t particularly like school are yearning to hear the school bell interrupt their preferred school activities shared with friends.. in person!
A global pandemic, with nowhere to go and presumably “nothing to do”. Life is probably filled with more NOs, and not very promising maybes.
It is fair to say that in the last few months, many have come to appreciate the very present and tangible role teachers play in the lives of children. Long days playing instructor, minder, counselor, nanny, disciplinarian, mummy/daddy, playmate, confidante, nurse, bad cop, good cop you name it. For 8 hours a day these sometimes under-appreciated men and women all over the world are everything to your child. However, one key thing that they and the institutions they operate in bring to a student’s life is structure.
From play group to final year secondary students, an imposed routine/structure in the day of a learner has an immeasurable and seldom talked about value. From the time they wake up to the “end of day” which differs for different ages, there is a pre-set sequence of activities which they adhere to.
Since the pandemic hit, structure and routine for most has taken a hit. Parents are at a loss on how to manage one, let alone several children’s days to ensure that they are productive and filled with constructive activities. This is quite the uphill task because they also have work tasks, domestic chores and ensuring the basic needs of the entire family are met.
In Kenya, news reports tell us that a good number of children will not return to school when the battle against covid-19 is won thanks to early pregnancies, engaging in miscreant behavior, devastation of family incomes etc. This sad reality makes us as educators feel a little helpless as we cannot have the impact we would typically have, with learners in school.
While there are so many things we have no control over, we challenge parents to take what they can and establish if not yet, routines and schedules in children’s lives.
From wake up times, meal times, carrying out chores and spending time with the family, schedules and routines have great benefits for everyone. Here are a few reasons why;
- Routine reduces stress as it helps them manage expectations- they may not know what to expect in the coming year but they know what to expect in a day.
- Provides a sense of normalcy, given the “new normal”
- Helps to create and cement good habits- activities like making the bed, assisting with meal preparation, caring for domestic animals, cleaning up after themselves etc
- Develops their sense of independence- Knowing what is expected of them, they learn how to plan and organize their day without constant prompting.
Just as routines and activities are unique at each school, they would be for different families. As a start, begin with the basics already mentioned Wake up and bed times, chores, group activities e.g daily devotion, etc.
The how when of your child’s routine and why we will leave up to you . However, we will offer some advice, information that may help you along.
As you begin, we remind you about what the good book says about time.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
A Time for Everything