Routine Charts for Easy Starts

The start of the day can be harrowing, especially if you have kids of different ages who need to get to different places!  The only way I know of getting everyone out of the door on time and with everything they need, is to establish good routines and stick to them.  Routine charts can be incredibly helpful for a child’s growing independence.  Young kids who can manage a few steps independently in the morning, become kids who are responsible for their own school materials, and then become teens who are capable of managing their own timetables.

I chatted with Liam, Robbie and Jo on air this morning about routine charts on Brisbane’s 96Five.  If you missed it, check out the podcast!

Summary points:

  • Don’t confuse reward charts with routine charts
  • Move from photographs, to pictorial symbols, to words and symbols, then finally to timetables
  • Keep it age appropriate (a 4 year old can probably manage a 4 step morning routine… a 6 year old can manage 6 steps)
  • Remember that the aim is independence! Let them be responsible for their tasks.

There are three ways to go about starting off a new routine chart for your child.  You can make it yourself from scratch, use one that others find works for them, or buy a ready-made one.  The advantage of making your own is that you can truly personalise it for your child.  Photos are especially effective for young kids.  Take a photo of the breakfast cereal, the kindy bag, the school uniform, the sunscreen… whatever!

If you’d like to use a routine chart from other mums, try one of these:

Childhood101 – I highly recommend Christie’s FREE printable routine cards for young kids. Photos ready to go!

Living Locurto – This simple set of 4 FREE routine cards for young ones is print-ready.

The Organised Housewife – Print out Katrina’s FREE morning or evening routine chart for primary school kids.

Buttoned Up – Try this FREE weekly schedule for kids in middle school. Laminate it, then fill it out together at the start of each week with a fine whiteboard marker.

Little Billies – I reviewed these charts a couple of years ago but sadly they are no longer available :-(

(Photographic routine cards from Childhood 101)

Do you use routine charts in your home? What works for you? Know of another printable worth sharing…?

11 thoughts on “Routine Charts for Easy Starts

  1. We have a routine chart too. It’s working wonders. I printed out a whole bunch of pictures found online, cut them out and laminated them. I stuck them to a long sheet of paper inside the pantry cupboard (with blu tack in case we needed to change the order). Brian loves running back and forth to it getting ready in record time. Works for me!

  2. Oh, I am so behind. This sounds brilliant… could save a lot of repetitive reminding (nagging…). The only questions that remain are to print or to make… and who has a laminator?… Thanks! Feel like you just gave me a key. grace

  3. Suggestions for non-competitive kids? I have a 5-yr-old who doesn’t care about record time, about doing it faster than yesterday, or his brother, or…much else really. Then he gets cranky when it’s time to go and i start going out to the car and he’s not dressed…as if that’s my fault! I hate making him cranky, and i don’t do it intentionally but some days it’s *the only thing* that gets him to do what he’s sposed to do…

    1. Hey Alison. What about an incentive? Make it clear what time you’re leaving (it’s 8am for us) and then if he’s ready BEFORE leaving time, he can use that time to….. play on the iPad? Something else that tickles his fancy??

  4. Cathie, I couln’t agree more..we just started a routine chart last week, and it is soooo helpful, no more nagging and we are ready well ahead of schedule in the mornings. I felt I had to attach a reward to the chart (maybe a mistake, after reading your points above), he gets a sticker at the end of each day and then a reward at the end of the week (nothing too big though), but for the time being, his behaviour is improving because he is being more compliant and is also busier.:)Sam

  5. I’m a BIG fan of routine charts. We NEED them to get out the house in the mornings. We usually allow the kids to ‘reward’ themselves with something if they finish early (as per what you mentioned to Alison). It works really well. And if they want something for a longer period of time they can add it up for the weekend. Ours are wipeable and very cute.

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