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Routines that Make Family and School Life Easier

Learn about how to implement routines to create structure and reduce stress in your family's life.


Children and parents find starting school easier and less stressful when toilet learning is well established.
For helpful tips in supporting your child, visit Ready Set Go: Toilet Learning.

Morning and Bedtime routines

Do you struggle in the mornings to get your family up and ready for the day? Do you find it difficult to get your children to bed at a decent time? Establishing predictable routines make children feel safe and secure and can help reduce stress for everyone, including yourself.


A calm morning routine at home sets the tone for the rest of your child's day.

  1. Use a visual schedule with photos, clipart or objects that clearly show your child the steps in their morning routine. This can help them understand what is next in the morning routine and build independence with these skills.
  2. Allow for choices, such as what they would like to eat for breakfast (cereal or eggs?).
  3. Include bonding time in your morning routine. Read, bathe or cuddle to set a positive tone to the day.
  4. Encourage your child to follow the routine by providing positive specific praise. "Wow you got up and dressed all by yourself! What a great help you are!"


Bedtime is a daily opportunity for you to build and nurture a positive relationship with your child. It also teaches your child the skills they need to relax and transition from a busy day to restful sleep.

  1. Set a consistent bedtime and watch for signs of sleepiness.
  2. Use a visual schedule just like your morning routine.
  3. Implement calm activities during the hours before bed. Bathe, read books or listen to calming music.
  4. Plan ahead: With your child, choose their clothes for the next day. Pack their lunch.
  5. Explain what will happen when your child wakes up. Children can resist sleep if they are afraid they will miss out on something. Reassure them that tomorrow will be filled with fun.

Independence Skills

Young children like to feel independent and can learn simple self-help activities. Use encouragement that is positive and break the routine down into simple steps. Demonstrate how to do each step and then take turns showing each other how to complete the routine.

Self-help skills that make kindergarten life easier for everyone:

  • My child can dress and undress themself
  • My child can go to the bathroom with little or no help
  • My child knows how to wash their hands
  • My child can tell others thier full name and address
  • My child knows how to cross the street safely with an adult
  • My child knows how they will get to and from school
  • My child can open and close lunch and snack containers
  • My child can ask an adult for help

Spending Time Together

With busy schedules, it is important to spend time together as a family to reconnect with your children.

  • Keep your family schedule simple and allow time for unstructured play (external link).
  • Limit your family's use of technology or “screen time” such as TV, video games, and computers.
  • Read with your kids – a lot! Read books you enjoy, in your first language. Help your child relate the book you read to their world. Talk about, show, point to, and label words you read together.
  • Ask your kids to tell you a story using the pictures in their favourite book. Feel free to experiment with the words and images in the books you share. Have fun with reading!
  • Visit the library together to select books to read and to check out their children’s programs. Visit Burlington library programs (external link), Halton Hills and Oakville library programs (external link) libraries for more information.
  • Have family rituals, traditions, special events and celebrations
  • Look at family photos often and remember fun and happy times that make your family so special!
  • Sing along with the radio, make up a song together or share a fun or silly song from your childhood. Use actions that go along with the song!
  • Recite nursery rhymes and play rhyming games together.
  • Encourage your kids to talk (external link) to you and tell you a story about anything at all.

Routines at home and school

What children learn at school is impacted by what happens at home. When routines and activities at both home and school are similar:

  • Children learn better
  • Everyone is less stressed
  • Shifting from home to school and school to home is easier

What can parents do:

  • Become familiar with the daily routines and activities at school
  • Where possible try to have similar routines at home
  • Take an active role in your child’s learning by:
    • Reading with your child everyday – it not only builds your child’s reading and language skills but also builds on your relationship
    • Connecting with children and other parents in your child’s class
    • Volunteering in the classroom or at school events or your school’s parent council

Having consistent routines are very important to young children but make sure you allow for some flexibility. Children need to learn how to deal with small changes. If most of their day is predictable, this will make it easier when small changes arise.