We all know those daily events that serve as epic battle grounds for parent-child contests of will: getting dressed and out of the house, drop-off at daycare or school, toileting, dinner time and bedtime. (Hey, that sounds like all day!) You may notice special difficulties kicking up around each of these “trigger times” in the autumn. Each of these daily events represents some kind of transition, and when they are experiencing larger changes in their lives, children can feel an increased need for control around these smaller daily transitions. Whether your child is in a school programme or not, autumn usually brings about a change of pace along with the change of the seasons.
Predictable routines are a parent’s best friend this time of year; they help children feel safe, reassuring them that some things will always stay the same in the face of any large or small life transition. Incorporating books into these daily routines has the added benefit of providing quality bonding time, as well as practise with pre-reading or reading skills.
You can use a combination of independent book time and reading together to create routines for each of these sensitive times of day.
Here are some suggestions:
- The morning rush: Keep a basket of books for “quiet reading” in the area of the house where you need to prep things each morning (e.g., the kitchen). Get kids into the routine of having “quiet reading” time after breakfast while you finish getting everything ready for the day. This is also a lovely, calm way for children to start the day!
- Drop-off: If younger children are struggling with daycare or school drop-off, establish a routine of reading one book together before you say goodbye. The child can pick the book, but stick to just one! (Obviously, check with the play leader or teacher first to make sure this is okay.)
- Toileting: Keep a basket of books in the bathroom to help make toileting a stress-free experience for children. Read a book aloud or allow the child to read “on the throne”. The more relaxed they are, the more likely they are to “do their business”.
- Dinner time: Turn dinner time into family story and discussion time. Read a short book or portion of a book aloud at dinner and then talk about it together. The rule is: “Reading and Eating” — in order for you to be reading, the kids need to be eating!
- Bedtime: And, of course, books can help with the routine at bedtime. Try as hard as you can to resist attempts at pulling you into a negotiation! Put a firm cap on the number of books you’ll read, and stick to it. You’ll thank yourself later.
It’s not realistic to think that each of these routines will be a walk in the park every day, but “transitioning” even one daily battle into a bonding literacy experience will feel like a huge autumn WIN for everyone.
–Stefanie Paige Grossman, Global Program Director
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