Habits are built from young, be it good or bad. Children build up their habits by imitating from environments around them. If you want your child to have a ‘good start’, having routines are essential. You can start from simple task such as keeping your toys after playing to more complex (e.g. many steps) task such as toileting (e.g. go to the toilet, close the door, pull down your pants, do your business, pull up pants, flush and wash your hands).
Most children are visual learners. Thus, pairing routines with visuals are essential to allow children to model after the visuals (e.g. a picture of someone washing hands will be a visual cue for child to wash hands). Having visuals will also help to decrease the amount of times you have to ‘nag’ at your child to do what he/she is supposed to be doing.
There are some things to note before you start your young child on this journey of building routine in his/her life. Firstly, understanding the ability of your child is important (e.g. cognitive ability, language ability, etc). For example, use more pictures if your child’s language ability is still developing; use less pictures and more words if he/she has better language ability. Secondly, keep the steps/items on your routine list short and specific; use simple language and illustration so that it increases the chance of your child understanding what he/she needs to do. Lastly, you may want to add your child’s name or favourite cartoon characters to make the visuals look more appealing to your child.
Visuals and routines can be faded off when child is familiar with the routines; however, if you have new task or skill to teach your child, you can always bring them the visuals back. Below are some visuals that can be paired with routines that you may wish to teach your child.
This is a visual aiming to teach children about the different levels of volume. We may sometimes realise that it is difficult to get your child to remain silent when going to the library. In times like this, a volume thermometer is a very useful illustration to show the children what the different volume levels mean and when they can use that volume. Parents can build in the routine by reminding child which volume they can use. For example, “We are going into the library. We will need to use the ninja voice and that means we need to have complete silence.” Remind child frequently and provide enough opportunities for child to practise in the actual environment. Once your child is familiar with the routine, the next time you go to the library, you can just say, “We are going to library, use ninja voice.”
This social sentences/story is filled with visuals to help children understand the sentences. Children who have higher language ability may not need to have so many visuals; it all depends on your child. This visual aim to teach children what does being a good listener means. It is broken up into sentences and visuals were included to give children a better idea of what they are required to do. After teaching your child using this story, provide enough opportunities for them to practise. Prompt them what they have to do by re-reading the story until child is able to show independence. Once the routine is built, you can fade off and prompt them by using this visual.