Routines vs Schedules

Why do we need a schedule and daily routines?  The same types of things take place every day – meals, snacks, diapering or helping children in the bathroom, reading, art, outdoor time, etc. Likely you’re doing all the things already. So why do you need a schedule written out and why do you have to follow a consistent schedule and routine? While you as the educator know what’s going on, your children likely do not know what to expect next, creating a feeling of uncertainty and probably chaos!

1. Children thrive on consistency. Here’s a secret – adults do too!
2. Routines reduce stress and behavior issues. Great! Everyone wants that for sure!
3. A schedule helps children to engage in learning. When it’s planned for, it happens. A daily routine will create an environment in which children can experience a variety of planned and unplanned, yet intentional activities.

Routines and schedules must be consistent yet flexible to meet the needs of children and keep them engaged.

Whether you are just starting out working with young children or you have 30 years of experience, it’s still important the day has a consistent structure.

READ: Why You Should Use a Daily Picture Schedule

What’s the difference between routines and schedules?

There are a lot of moving parts and pieces to the daily schedule and routine!


A schedule represents the big picture and includes main activities that happen across the day. Example: each day, Circle Time takes place. It is one activity within the daily schedule, perhaps in the morning after outdoor play and snack time. There are many activities each day within the schedule, which require smaller routines and transitions. Children may become overwhelmed and look for support while they get familiar with their daily schedule.


Routines are the steps needed to complete each part of the schedule. Example: the Circle Time routine may include the following routine: Transition to the Circle Time space, song, calendar, weather and daily topic discussion before transitioning to Music and Movement. The calendar part of the Circle Time routine may have a routine in itself, such as, naming the day of the week, putting up the calendar piece and counting. Children need to be supported through each routine.

Looking for an example full-day or half schedule? READ: Full Day & Half Day Sample Schedules

Who is Here Today? Attendance & Routines Printable Resources

Download and print the attendance and routines Touch & Play materials to create a fun and functional Circle Time display.

Included in this kit:
1 Title Card (A colorful sign for your wall)
1 Home and 1 School Mini-Poster
8 Nametags (Print as many as you need)
1 Set Baby Daily Routine
1 Set Toddler Daily Routine
1 Set Preschool Daily Routine

Downloadable Touch & Play Routines Display

Teach with Experience Toddler or Experience Preschool!

%d bloggers like this: