A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation

Routines and School Readiness

CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Brushing teeth before bed; a nightly story to unwind. Maybe it’s a family walk right after dinner. Routines are often a touchstone in a child’s day. Now, experts in human development say that such routines may be a critical part of getting kids ready for kindergarten.

For Davis Patterson, helping dad Omari in the kitchen is a daily afternoon ritual. He’s learning first-hand about meal preparation and nutrition, and he’s engaging in behavior that may have also prepared him for school. Kristen Bub, EDD, a developmental psychologist at the University of Illinois, and her colleague at Auburn University found that regular family routines started as early as 14 months predicted a child’s readiness for kindergarten.

“Routines are really critical for children’s ability to sort of regulate those emotions and to interact in a socially appropriate way,” explained Bub. Bub and her colleagues studied data from over 3,000 children and found that those with more routines were less likely to exhibit bad behavior and hyperactivity. More routines also predicted better academic skills.

“More able to concentrate, better attention, better math and reading—you know, math and reading for little kids—so better able to count,” Bub told Ivanhoe.

Bub works with parents to help create family routines. Using activity or chore charts, she coaches parents to select a few important tasks.

“Put it on the chart of things to do each day and the child moves it to the done side when they do it,” said Bub.

The Patterson family uses their own system of “Davis dollars” to reward good behavior or completion of chores.

Davis’ mom, Ashley Patterson, detailed: “I just really wanted to not have any more crying breakdowns. That was my motivation, but it had all these unintended positive consequences.”

Bub said parents can begin establishing routines with children early. She says something as simple as working with a child on brushing their teeth will start them on the path toward regular routines.


Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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