The start of summer vacation means a chance for families to deviate from their routine of getting up at the same time each morning. But, is that the right thing to do?

In response to a question from a viewer, Debi Gutierrez, host of the program “A Place of Our Own,” suggested that keeping kids on a schedule is best because:

  • Consistency gives kids security,
  • Schedules help build trust between kids and child care providers,
  • Inconsistency creates emotional anxiety,
  • Allow for flexibility within the day, and
  • Parents should be consistent when children are at home.

Taking those thoughts a bit further, Moises Roman, with the UCLA Early Care & Education Department, agrees with the concept of schedules for young children. “Schedules and routines are important for children because they need to know what’s coming next. If the schedule is consistent, children learn the pattern. Once a pattern is set children can infer, for instance, that lunch comes after music time. This way, there aren’t too many unknowns.”

Roman also suggested that schedules increase the levels of trust that kids have with the adults in their lives. “When children have too many unknowns, anxiety builds up and they start showing emotional reactions to the inconsistency.”

A big part of schedules for young children involves getting a good night of restful sleep. The National Sleep Foundation has suggested in an article at the Valley Sleep Center that elementary age children need 10-11 hours, while teens need 8.5- 9.25 every night. Depending upon the age of children, it can be very difficult getting kids to go to bed, especially if it is still light outside during the summer. It can also be extremely hard to convince kids to stay in bed and even more difficult to get kids to go to sleep.

During the school year, teachers sometimes face a classroom full of kids who appear to have difficulty concentrating because they are just too tired. The same problem can face families during summer vacation unless their kids maintain a scheduled routine similar to the routine they use during the school year.

After all, summer vacation lasts a little over two months. If kids are allowed to deviate from routines they have followed during the other 10 months of the year it becomes just another challenge for them and for you when school resumes.