Creating a Pleasant Bedtime Routine as a Family

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Bedtime routines are a very important part of the beginning of the school year. Establishing a bedtime routine that is consistent and meaningful can build on parent and child interactions to develop relationships that are positive and thrive. Utilizing this time with children can make for a smooth transition to bedtime, which will ensure children are getting enough sleep every night—and this, in turn, makes the mornings a much more pleasant experience for children and parents.

It is important to consider several aspects when planning a bedtime routine, including:

  • The bedtime routine should last a short time—though a little longer if the routine includes a bath.
  • Choosing activities, books, or songs to sing together during the bedtime routine will allow families to unwind together.
  • Including dental hygiene as a part of the bedtime routine will allow children to brush, rinse, and floss on a daily basis and understand the importance of this occurring every night before they go to sleep.
  • A bath can be included in the bedtime routine to reinforce the importance of health and hygiene and can serve as a wind-down event after a day of school and an evening of activities.
  • Consistency and expectations play a key role in creating a bedtime routine that will be successful and create a pleasant experience for the family as well as helping children feel secure and safe.

While it should be a mellow and relaxing part of a child’s day, a successful bedtime routine can be the perfect opportunity for teaching children new skills and helping to promote healthy growth and development. The family can work together to create additional learning experiences by asking questions, creating opportunities for conversations, and fostering independence. The Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework is set up as five essential domains that can be linked to a bedtime routine and school readiness to enhance children’s development and learning experiences into the home. Here are a few examples:

  • Physical Development and Health: Washing, brushing teeth, toileting, dressing, buttoning pajamas, manipulating a book during a bedtime story
  • Social and Emotional Development: Appropriate independence, following routines and transitions
  • Approaches to Learning: Demonstrating imagination and inventiveness during the bedtime activities, asking questions and seeking information, maintaining an interest in the routine and activities, participating in music activities, such as singing or listening
  • Language and Literacy: Attending to language during conversations, introducing new vocabulary, storytelling, sharing reading experiences, asking and answering questions about stories, retelling stories, reviewing letters in the bath tub to work on letter recognition and sounds
  • Cognitive and General Knowledge: Reciting numbers in the correct order, counting objects, using a timer to brush teeth for a minute, recognizing shapes, comparing objects in size and shapes, creating patterns, describing predictions and explanations, identifying personal and family structure, understanding the roles of the home, differentiating time periods (past, present, future)