Parents know that young children don't always respond well to spontaneous activity, and that's because children thrive on routine and knowing what to expect. In fact, children who follow a regular schedule feel more secure and safe, according to HealthyChildren.org. Creating a schedule for your 5-year-old will take some careful consideration, but once it's in place, you'll wonder what you ever did without it.
Benefits of a Schedule
A schedule helps a child organize his life so he knows what to expect at certain times of the day. A schedule can also cut down on the amount of time you spend badgering your 5-year-old to do things like brush his teeth and clean his room. That's because if something is part of his routine, he'll be more willing to move from activity to activity without you hovering and telling him over and over. For example, if he knows that after breakfast, he always gets dressed, he'll be more likely to go get his clothes as soon as he's done eating, often without a reminder from you. A schedule helps your child learn independence, self-sufficiency and responsibility, as well.
What to Include
Your schedule should include all of the activities your child does on a daily, or almost daily, basis. Activities such as eating breakfast, brushing teeth, going to school or extracurricular activities, free time and taking his medications, if necessary. Schedule bedtime as well. You might even consider making a new schedule at the start of each week so you can include play dates, dinner at Grandma's house and birthday parties your child is attending.
Making the Schedule
Use a large piece of paper to create your 5-year-old's schedule. This allows you to display it somewhere in your home so your child can refer back to it when needed. List each of the approximate times your child does each activity on the left side of the paper. Next to each time list what's on the schedule for that time. For example, you might write 7:30 a.m. - eat breakfast or 8:00 p.m. - go to bed. Repeat this procedure for each day of the week if you want to make a more detailed schedule. Get your child on board by encouraging him to draw pictures of each activity on the schedule, which is particularly helpful if he isn't reading yet.
Don't Write It In Stone
Don't be too rigid with your schedule, however. A flexible schedule also teaches your child how to adapt to unexpected events, such as when you end up scrapping a half hour of free time because you're out of toilet paper and need to make a quick trip to the store. If you're too rigid with your expectations, you're also creating a lot of unneeded stress if you fall off schedule.