Fridge fairies, Wrong-handed teeth-brushing, and more. In this episode, Andy, Robin and Adam discuss the importance of routines for children in school and out of school. Can bed making be an impactful start to a day? Should their free time be structured too? Plus, the crew highlight that school may well be the only place where some children actually experience structures and routines.
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Hi, I'm Andy Psarianos.
Hi, I'm Robin Potter.
Hi, I'm Adam Gifford.
This is the School of School podcast.
Welcome to the School of School podcast.
Welcome back. It's another School of School podcast. Andy and Robin here. Hi, both.
So I was thinking of having a conversation the other day about routines, and I realised that I'm a real creature of habit. I've got a routine in the morning and it's pretty tight. So I'm wondering, do you think, A) are they important? Are morning routine's important? And are they important for children in schools? So I want to throw it over to you two. You might be real free flow in the morning. I've got no idea. Routines: pros, cons.
Oh, I too am a creature of habit. I have to say. I don't change it up much. I change up a little bit on the weekends, but for my weekday, I definitely stay pretty structured and I kind of like it that way. I mean, obviously I do, because otherwise I wouldn't be doing that. So yes, I think a morning routine or any kind of routine is important. And I think it is a good idea for kids to start their own routines at a young age. They get in the habit, because I think it helps set you off for success from the moment you get up and helps keep you on track as to what you want to accomplish in the day.
Yeah, structure is super important, right? It's super important. And I think some people can perform reasonably well without too much structure, but some people basically can't function without it. There's a real spectrum there. But I don't think it ever hurts anybody. I think structure is predictability and structure just means that things can move smoothly and efficiently. And even simple things, I don't know. You get out of bed, what's the first thing you do? Maybe you brush your teeth. Maybe that's the first thing you do. You almost becomes like it doesn't require a lot of processing. It's not like you're not going to get through the, oh no, it's the end of the day and you're laying in bed and going, "Oh, I haven't brushed my teeth today." Right?
Yeah, I hope not.
Yeah, no, but you know what I mean. Those structures make those types of hundreds of things that you need to get done, just get them out of the way and without a lot of mental anguish, it's all a good thing. And in learning, it's almost critical. You'll see it in classrooms. Classrooms that don't have classroom routines and structures don't get through the stuff. It's a simple thing. Hey, it's art class, we all need to go get a pair of scissors and a sheet of paper and the paint boxes and the brushes.
And whether you can do that in a minute or that might take 20 minutes. Well, you're not going to have much of a chance to do your arts and crafts class if it takes you 20 minutes to get those things. So just having that routine of storing things in the same places and getting them and whatever, that is tremendously efficient. But when you're talking about routines or you're talking about morning routines, are we talking about what they do before they come to school? Or are we talking about what they do at school? Or both?
Quite possibly both. And I think in the absence of routine, because to me it comes back to expectations. If you've got a routine, you know what to expect. There's no surprises.
But if every morning you knew that you had your breakfast each morning and that you guys might have the same breakfast, pretty close to the same breakfast most mornings. But if every morning I woke up and I didn't know what was in the fridge, so the fridge fairies came in each night and just put in a random selection of food, that would just freak my day out.
You open it up, you go, "Oh man, this isn't what I want for breakfast." And this fantastic guy that I learned a huge amount from when I was training as a teacher, a guy called Peter Sinclair, a brilliant man. He ended up working with athletes and sports psychology and all that sort of carry on. But before then, he was a teacher and he always used to say behaviour. Everyone talks about how you deal with behaviour. And he just stressed that you've got to find root cause.
So that example of not having the food. If I don't know what the food's going to be in the fridge, and I just like this for breakfast, this is my breakfast go-to. Then the way it might present itself, so I don't want to get out of bed. So my mom's like, "Get out of bed. It's late. You've got to get to school." "No, I don't want to get out of bed. Don't want to get out of bed." Because I don't want to face what's in the fridge. I don't want to see that. But often it's kind of like, "Oh, it's to do with the fridge. Or sorry, you're tired. Get to bed earlier."
And actually you're missing that. And that's what I used to see a lot in schools is that that behaviour trail, people react differently to things that are surprises or unexpected. And it manifests and presents itself in a whole host of different ways. And that's where I think school, it's really important that there is that routine, because in some households, there's not. And that's really tough at times for some kids to cope with.
Yeah. And when you look at people who achieve tremendous things in their lives, they often talk about having those predictable routines in their lives. Like what you say, I'm not going to waste my time worrying about breakfast. Every morning I have a so boil egg for breakfast, therefore I know that there needs to be eggs in the fridge. Or it's like that whole thing. And then if that isn't the case, then that throws you for the day. So it's like, I always make my bed like this at this time in the morning, and that kind of sets the rest of your day. There's a guy that talks about this on Navy SEAL General or something that talks about this, or Admiral who talks about this, the importance of making your bed every morning, because it sets you on the journey.
It's like this is the first step of my day. I know if I've done that, if everything else goes horrible, at least I know that when I get home, my bed is made. And it gives you courage to face the day, or whatever, to the next step. So yeah, it's really interesting. It's fascinating. I think you're right. My world's too chaotic. I think maybe that's something that I need to try to get those morning routines down.
I think it's funny though, because you talk sometimes about, it can be seen as quite negative as if it equates to dull and boring. But I think that sometimes the routine like you've just described, it frees you out for other things. So it doesn't mean that you get into a stage where your whole life is to utterly routine, to the point where, because that's worrying. And unfortunately people have that, where they've got to do certain things in order just to cope and get through.
I think it's about some of those things that are out of your control. So I'm thinking about school, you're largely in the control of your teachers, mainly. That I think it's that, where you just want to know what you can expect. And I think that one of the common threads, it's the part of the job that I really, it was incredibly important, but incredibly upsetting at times, sort of child protection stuff. And one of the common threads with a lot of those children who have suffered horribly and been through some pretty terrible stuff is that a lot of stuff was, they didn't know what to expect. There wasn't a consistency. What am I going to get today? And I don't know. And that freaks me out.
And I think that's where schools, and maybe this is just general life, this is what you can expect from me, or this is what you can expect from this environment, and it's going to be like this, and you can feel safe in it, because you know it's not going to pull a trick on you. It's not going to do something different and out of character. And that's where I think in schools, that routine part of it is really important and almost a wee bit, the word that springs to mind is dangerous, but I think that that's too much.
But if it's just a free for all today, we're just going to throw this out, then we're just going to have a go at this. And I'll tell you what, you just choose your own today and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. And like you said right at the beginning, Andy, don't be surprised if all of a sudden things start to go horribly wrong and behaviour starts to kick off and all that sort of stuff.
Some people can operate in that environment.
Yes, absolutely. Yep.
But not most people. It's a small amount of people. And there's some people who absolutely need the structure in order to function at any level. And I know that that's a characteristic of some children with, not just children, just people, with autistic tendencies, that if that structure doesn't exist, it just can't function. Because simple things like if you say, first we do this, then we do that, then we do that. And if they don't know that that's what's going to happen. If it's just a free for all, do what you like for the next 20 minutes. Like you say, all the worst behaviour will come out because they can't cope. And we're all a little like that.
Of course, all of us have to learn the unexpected stuff happens to all of us all the time, all the time. But yeah, I think I found it really interesting that some change of routine help manifest itself in children and adults. But I find it really interesting.
But I think there's an important thing to be learned here, which is that vulnerable children, children who maybe come from a broken home or home where there is no structure and there is no predictability, maybe the parents have their own issues that they're struggling with, those children, the school may be the only opportunity that they get for that structure and that predictability. And that that needs to be available for them to learn those things, to learn those structures, because they won't get it anywhere else.
That's why I think it's really important teachers are as consistent as possible, so at least you know what you're getting. I think that's really, really important for a lot of kids. And of course some children you don't know or you don't know the situation. And so that's where that, if you can maintain that, then that's probably a win. You don't always know. Well, most of the time you don't know what's going on in anyone's home or sort of life outside of school.
Yeah. That's very true. Yeah.
Well, thinking of my own kids, again, I don't know. I would say they do have a morning routine, both of them. And they don't have a lot of time from the time they wake up to get to school because they prefer to have that extra 15 minutes of sleep, I guess. So we've already talked about just knowing from the moment you get up to the time you leave, you kind of know what your routine is because then you're saving time. You're kind of on autopilot almost. I mean, I find that I kind of know my own morning routine. I get up, I have a few things that I always do, and I think my kids are the same.
And then, so if you do throw something, like you said, Adam, things get changed up on you sometimes the field trip form didn't get signed, or it's a certain day at school, they were supposed to dress up like something and they didn't plan the night before. I mean, it does. It's amazing to see how that change up can impact from the time they leave the house or the time they get to school. And so again, just having those things kind of in place and then having maybe a slight window that will allow you to still, I don't know, have room for add-ons in the morning
For chaos, Robin.
And I think that's the thing I just want to stress this point, right? As parents, I'm not suggesting for a second, I mean, it's chaos, man. If you've got lots of children, even one's enough..... and you're getting yourself ready.
But I think separating it out and saying a morning routine for children in schools, we have the ability in schools to set that up nicely. Of course things are going to happen. But wearing my dad hat, all over the show, man, I'm trying to get myself dressed as well as my kids dressed, but I am dressed when I arrive at school to teach. Once I'm there. And so be under no illusion I'm not suggesting for a second that all parents have this wonderful Swiss timing sort of routine in the morning. Well, I'll be a hypocrite if I suggested that. So let's just get that on the record.
But the thing is is that there's a skill in putting the chaos in a box, which is structuring the chaos in a way. So if you think of things like recess, for example, is a good example of that. Recess is like, "Okay, all your kids go outside and run around and do whatever you want, but we're only doing that for 15 minutes." So that they know that even that has some structure around it is enough. And that's an important thing to think about as well, is how do you structure the chaos, the chaotic times.
Because you need to have those.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Safe chaos.
It's a prerequisite to learning, surely.
That's right. Yeah. Yeah. Well, structure, routines, chaos, they all have their place. But even I think, again, it's getting to that idea that even the chaos needs to have some structure around it and some routines.
At the very least, tell them the chaos is about to happen.
And in a lot of cases, more importantly, when it will end, right? Yeah.
It's like carnival, the whole city goes crazy for a day, but then tomorrow it's all back to normal. Right?
So it's that sort of idea. How regimented are your routines when you're not the rest of your days as structured, so let's say weekends or holidays or things like that. Do you still follow the same routines? And do your children follow the same routines?
I would say I don't nearly as much. I always make my bed, just happens to be something I do. So I would do that on the weekend as well, but it would be, I have much more of a free flow when I don't have to be somewhere at a certain time or start my workday or whatever it is.
So there's non negotiables in your routine, there's things like making your bed, probably brushing your teeth, or whatever it is. There are things that you will always do probably the same way. It's an interesting thing I heard, and I don't know how true this is, but when you brush your teeth every day, you will almost, without exception, take the exact same amount of strokes in the same direction, in the same order.
I believe that.
The same thing when you take a shower or whatever. That you'll wash yourself exactly the same way every day. You'll wash this arm first, and then you'll wash that arm and you'll take exactly so many... Somebody did a study on this. It's quite fascinating.
Oh wow. That's it. I'm changing it up.
I'm going to change it up.
Well try and see how you get on. You'll probably feel uncomfortable.
I'm going to brush my teeth with my left hand.
Oh, that just makes me uncomfortable thinking about that.
Thank you for joining us on the School of School podcast.