News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Daily Routines for a Happy, Healthy, and Successful School Year

JCCHD | Wed, August 13, 2014 | [Community][Healthcare][Sibling Spotlight]

It’s everybody’s favorite time of year—back to school! Okay, maybe not everyone’s, but there are a few important ways parents can help their kids thrive in this changing environment. With the new school year comes many changes in our children’s lives. These changes can often be scary and overwhelming, causing our child’s performance to suffer in many different areas. There is nothing that can alleviate these types of stressors for our kiddos like well established routines.

Although many adults find routines mundane, it is well known that kids flourish when there is more structure in their lives. “Knowing what to expect from relationships and activities helps children become more confident,” says Dr. Peter Gorski, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Liza Asher, 2009). It is important for kids to have routines at home because it gives them a sense of security that can help with the stress of starting a new school year. Effective routines at home can also help to develop the self-discipline that will help them later in life. Just like the rest of us, children handle change best if it is expected and occurs within a familiar routine.  A predictable routine allows children to feel safe, and to develop a sense of mastery in handling their lives. 

  • Back to School

    Establishing effective routines that strike a good balance between the chaos of unstructured time and overbearing rigidity can be challenging (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2004). It is important to stay consistent when following through on everyday routines, but it is equally important to leave some room for flexibility. Learning how to navigate structure and routines with flexibility teaches kids how to constructively control themselves and their environments.

    Most parents already know that their children learn a great deal from them—even bad habits are easily learned through simple observation. This is why it’s important to practice what you preach and show your children examples of good planning and organizational skills in your own life. Two of the most important routines for children involve following regular meal times and learning how to wind down before bedtime. These routines should be practiced by everyone in the family, if possible, for the benefit of all.

    There is a long list of benefits for children as well as the whole family when effective routines are followed. Routines can eliminate power struggles when activities like teeth brushing or turning off the TV are just the things that are done at a certain time of the day. Children following a routine will be better prepared for transitions and will therefore have lower stress levels. When children are proficient at their daily routine it gives them a sense of accomplishment and independence that will make them less likely to become oppositional. And getting on a schedule helps kids and adults fall asleep sooner, making them both physically and emotionally healthier.

    These are just a few of the benefits—it’s hard enough to start a new school year with new teachers and new friends. These tips can help set up your child for an easy transition into a happy, healthy, and successful school year.


    American Academy of Pediatrics. (2004). Why are family routines so important to children?., retrieved from

    Asher, L. (2009). The Importance of Routines for Children. Mommd, retrieved from