My husband made the comment a while back saying the boys were like robots because when I told them “Okay, let’s sit in the chairs,” they both did so right away. It was time for lunch, and they know that they have to sit in their chairs so I can give them their plates of food.
Yes, they’re only 13 months old, but children thrive on structure. I’m giving them lots and lots of structure because I love structure too! It makes my life so much easier – knowing what to expect, how things will flow, and what not. (I know how to plan my daily projects and activities around their daily routine. That way they get my full attention during their waking hours.)
For meals and snacks- Rather than having them wander around and grabbing a bite here and there in between their activities, they sit down together at a specific time (or times throughout the day). It’s not so much of a set schedule, but a routine that they are used to that they’ve grown to love.
If they aren’t hungry, no big deal, they’ll eat at the next meal or snack time, but they do have to sit and wait for the other to finish their meal or snack. It just makes sense. If one tot goes off to play because he’s not hungry, what do you think the other tot is going to want to do? Exactly. That’s why we sit together for our meal and snack times. If I only had one little one, I’m sure it would be more relaxed (and it is like that on the weekends when we only have our own son here.)
During the week, I have two slots of time during the day where I fit in our planned, Tot School activities. One is in the morning after breakfast and before morning snack and nap. The other is after lunch and before afternoon snack and nap.
It’s basically the same routine that repeats itself.
Free Play – Breakfast – Tot School – A.M. Snack – Nap – Free Play (while I prepare lunch) – Lunch – Tot School – P.M. Snack – Nap
Our morning Tot School usually takes place in Ryce Man’s room. I tell them, “Let’s go to Ryce Man’s room”, and they excitedly follow me down the hall. We do our Character (Bible Story), Small Object Play, Math, Spatial (usually blocks or puzzles), and Reading. We may finish in the kitchen with our Planned Art if it’s messy. Our afternoon Tot School usually includes movement (Beginner’s Walking Program), Sensory Bins (usually done outside), and Writing (Free Art in our Journals).
Our times are flexible, and I try to fit in as many of our activities as I can in our morning Tot School time, but I know that between 9:30 and 10:00 the boys will start to get a little cranky ready for their snack and morning nap. I try not to push it with times too much with them, as we also have that afternoon slot to get things done.
I really think the boys love the structure of having a routine and knowing what to expect each day. They don’t have to cry or fuss for me to feed them – they know about the time I’ll be giving them a snack or feeding them lunch. They wake up eager to play and see what activities I have planned for them. They get excited when I give them instructions for transitions during the day “Let’s go eat a snack” or “Let’s go take our nap now”. They say “nack” for snack or “night night”, and my robots are the cutest little things ever.
They are happy. They are smart. They are thriving because of this structure in our daily activities.
I love the structure we have in place, and I think they do too!