Struggling to stick to your kid’s routine? This simple, DIY routing book involves your child in setting and following family routines. Consider making one or two for your preschool or kindergarten classroom, as well!
Making a routine is one thing. Sticking to it is another altogether.
It’s easy to get sidetracked during your child’s daily routine, especially when a thousand distractions are hurled at you from the kid’s themselves.
And while the beauty of a routine vs. a schedule is that it is flexible, there’s still a trick or two you can use to help your kids and students follow their routines with less fuss.
Enlist your child to help you make a routine book!
I first heard of this idea during a Montessori seminar. A mother was asking for help with her bedtime routine. A suggestions was offered: make a routine book for the child. In the book, list each step, e.g. brush teeth, ask one last question, etc. And the last step? Wake up in the morning!
The idea is that by creating her very own routine book, the child will understand better what is expected of her. (This is half the battle.) Plus, an illustrated book is the perfect reference for you as a parent or teacher to point her to when you are reaching the end of your patience and starting to veer from the routine yourself.
How to Create a Routine Book for Kids
Here’s how to make a simple routine book:
1. Include your child in listing the steps of the routine on a sheet of paper.
By involving your child, you encourage her to feel a sense of pride as she later follows the steps she helped to write down.
Keep it simple, listing the most important steps. For example, the steps to a lunch time routine might look this like:
- I wash my hands.
- One at a time, I carry plates, forks, cups, and napkins to the table.
- I sit at the table and wait for mom to bring the food over.
- I enjoy lunch!
- When I am done eating, and I am excused, I get up and carry my dishes one at a time to the sink.
- I check to make sure my chair is pushed in.
- I clean up any crumbs or spills I see at my place.
- I wash my hands and check my face in the mirror to see if it needs to be wiped.
- I go play!
If that’s too many steps, you can simplify further.
It’s helpful to keep the steps positive, e.g. “When I am done eating, I get up.” vs. “I don’t get up and play during lunch.”
Ending on a happy note can encourage your child to go through all the steps to get to that last fun step. This is especially helpful with the bedtime routine. The last step isn’t: “Mom turns off the light and leaves the room.” It’s: “I wake up in the morning and start a new day!”
2. Print your free routine book template from my library here, or make your own.
Print as many of the middle pages as you need to for your particular routine. (The template includes a cover page, a “first” page, a “then” page, and a “lastly” page. Print as many of the “then” pages as needed.)
3. List each step of the routine on a separate page, and illustrate.
If your child is old enough, he can write the steps. If not, he can draw accompanying pictures to each step.
These pictures can help your child remember the steps. For example, he can draw a picture of each thing he needs to bring to the table at lunch time.
I recommend using a blank page for each illustration. When you set up the book, you can put the picture on the left of the spread, and the written steps on the right.
4. Invite your child to decorate the cover page.
The more the child participates in making this book, the more likely she will be to want to use it later. Let her decorate it how she likes, using the tools that you give her. (e.g. crayons, markers, etc.) If she can’t yet read, encourage her to include a picture that will help her remember which routine this book is for. You can help to write her name on the front if she can’t do it herself.
5. Assemble the book.
You can use a binder, putting each page in a sheet protector, or just simply use a three-hole-punch and some ribbon to bind the book.
6. Read the book with your child.
Read it once together after you have finished making the book. Then, read it again the next time you need to transition to that routine. For example, the next time you are about to make lunch, get out the lunch time routine book and read it together before you start lunch. You can repeat this as many days as you need to, but it may be enough to let your child look at the pictures by himself next time. Eventually, your child will learn the routine and won’t need to look at his book each time. Just find a convenient home for it so it’s there for reference if/when the routine starts falling apart again.
7. Make as many routine books as needed!
You might not need a book for every routine. (That could actually get a little out of hand…) But, when there is a particular routine that you are struggling with or just trying to get down pat, make a routine book with your child!
Here are some routines that might benefit from a helpful bookl:
- snack time
- lunch time
- cleaning up toys
- various chores
- getting home from school
- dinner time
- bed time
Does A Routine Book Help For Multiple Children or a Classroom?
Of course! Be as creative as you need to be. You can let each child illustrate one page. You can make a routine book for each chore, and assign each child to one chore.
What are your tips for sticking to routines as a class or a family? Share them with us in the comments!
Print your free routine book template from my resource library below!