Find Your Balance: Creating and Maintaining Scheduled Routines

Are you a “planner?” Are you someone that thrives when you have a schedule or know what’s coming? How do you feel when you don’t know what to expect? If you’re like me, I LOVE to plan! It relieves stress and anxiety about what needs to happen, even if I know I won’t enjoy what’s next on the agenda. Your children do too! Consistent, predictable routines help young children understand the environment and feel secure. A regular routine enables children to reduce anxiety by knowing what is coming next. A well-planned schedule will also help encourage children’s positive behavior by meeting their basic needs for eating, sleeping, active and quiet play, time alone, and time with other children. It’s all about balance in Creating and Maintaining Scheduled Routines.

girls playing on a white table balance of free choice play

Importance of Balance

It’s helpful to think of a daily schedule as a flexible “guide” used to capitalize on those moments that arise when children discover something that interests them. In creating schedules, it is also important to provide a healthy balance for children between group times and more solitary moments, quiet and noisy activities, and indoor and outdoor play. Studies have documented that schedules and routines influence children’s emotional, cognitive, and social development.

Also, schedules and routines help children understand the expectations and reduce the frequency of behavior problems, such as tantrums and acts of aggression. You don’t have to be central to all play activities. What that means is play routines need to have a balance of teacher-directed and child-engaged play. Activity schedules that give children choices, balanced and planned activities, and individualized activities promote a higher rate of engagement.

creating balance with daily schedules and routines in the early childhood classroom

What is in a Schedule?

Planning your daily schedule, so there are active play times and quiet play and rest will help children learn how to pace themselves. By balancing times for group and individual play, teaches them the importance of community and respect for individual needs. Scheduled routines should reflect whole-group activities, small-group interaction, and child-directed free play. One way to do this is through a visual schedule or picture schedule.

Small Groups:

In small groups, children learn how they fit in a group, build friendships and solve conflicts. Establish clear expectations while in the group, be prepared, and alternate groups as children naturally shift in and out of play.

Read more about Yes! To Small Groups

Large Groups: 

When planning for large group, or whole-group, activities, keep them short and active. Ensure the designated area, materials, and allotted time is developmentally appropriate, so the children remain engaged throughout the time. Children have limited attention spans. Consider the length of the activity and give freedom in the schedule to make adjustments as needed. 

Read more about Large Group Spaces & Routines


Empower children to make their own choices throughout the day on what they want to do. We call this “free play” or “free choice”. By limiting the number of options, the child can decide what direction they want to take, which will allow them to engage with the activity longer. These opportunities for a child’s participation and engagement can increase their ability to process information, improve memory and create shared enjoyment among all. 

Read more about Creating Developmentally Appropriate Daily Schedules

Family Involvement

Family involvement is a vital component of a child’s learning experience. Connect on a personal level to understand each family’s unique emotions and situations. Ask families what they anticipate, look forward to, and worry about. Develop fun and meaningful traditions for transitions within a program, such as creating a memory book, going on an adventure to the new classroom, choosing a buddy, or asking older children to share their stories. Provide opportunities to reflect on their feelings and experiences related to classroom experiences.

family involvement in creating daily schedules and routines

Remember, a schedule that is followed consistently helps make classrooms more predictable for children and adults. When planning activity schedules, caregivers should consider the balance of activities, types of play and the length of young children’s attention span. We need to balance time where children have choices between different activities and materials. Family communication is essential for connections in and out of the classroom. Have fun, make it safe and set yourself and your children up for success through scheduled routines in your day!

Working with children can be challenging, rewarding, and let’s face it…. Stressful! But with confidence, proven techniques and strategies you can start each day with the knowledge and understanding ready to succeed.

Join us each session as we tackle a new area of professional development. Perfect for all educators to build confidence and strategies to support their work every day.

Schedule and Topics

  • Monday, December 5, 2022, 1 pm EST- New staff, LOADS of nerves
  • Monday, December 12, 2022, 1 pm EST- Health, Safety and YOU!
  • Monday, December 19, 2022, 1 pm EST- The Importance of Play
  • Monday, January 9, 2023, 1 pm EST- Scheduling Routines
  • Monday, January 23, 2023, 1 pm EST- 100 Languages of Children
  • Monday, January 30, 2023, 1 pm EST- Oh Me, Oh My! Circle time has gone Awry!
  • Monday, February 6, 2023, 1 pm EST- Hot Buttons: How will YOU React?
  • Monday, February 13, 2023, 1 pm EST- Time Management and YOU
  • Monday, February 27, 2023, 1 pm EST- YOU Can Stop the Burn out: Work-Life Balance for Child Care Professionals

Save your Spot here. Missed the live training? Find the YOU series here.

Caitlin Hackett
Caitlin Hackett

Caitlin Hackett, an Education Support Specialist for Experience Early Learning, with over 17 years in the field of early childhood, holds her BA and teaching license in Elementary Education. She has served as a former toddler teacher, center director, in-home child care owner, foster parent, and with the CCR&R in coaching, professional development, children services and leadership. She is a certified PITC (Program for Infant and Toddler Care) instructor and PAX Community Educator. Her passion is in child advocacy, specifically around high-quality child care and promoting available resources in the foster care system.


Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. (2022). Helping Children Understand Routines and Classroom Schedules.Child Care and Head Start Bureaus in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Childcare.(2019). Establishing Predictable Routines in a Child Care Setting. Extension alliance for better child care.

The Whole Child. (2022). It’s the little things: daily routines. PBS.

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