Helpful tip #3 for starting the school year: The importance of schedules.




All children need schedules and familiar routines but children of divorce especially need someone to advocate the importance of schedules and routines for them.

Some children of divorce have several different schedules to follow. Imagine trying to remember what schedule you have to follow and thinking, “Am I at dad’s or mom’s?” Or “Do we take a shower before bed or when we get up in the morning?

It must be very confusing for many of these children let alone stressful just trying to remember all of the routines.

  • Children from divorced homes need predictability.
  • They need to know they can depend on specific things happening at a specific time.
  • Many times children have the perception that their lives are out of control and in disarray.
  • There is security in routines.
  • Routines help a child feel safe.
  • Schedules and routines create a better harmony between the single parent and the child.

Think about the child who is returning from an extended summer stay with a parent that lives across country. Most likely any semblance of a routine was dropped the minute the child stepped through the front door. The kids probably stayed up late, slept late the next day and had a blast at the other parent’s home.

Now the child is back home and school has or is about to start.  Single parents may need suggestions on the importance of schedules and routines. Let single parents know that inconsistency can cause emotional anxiety. For younger children inconsistent schedules can cause them to be moody and irritable. For school age children they may take out their frustrations on the single parent, siblings or friends.

Suggestions for the single parent

  • If your child is in childcare, find out approximately what time of the day they eat meals and have snack times. Follow the same schedule on the weekends if at all possible.
  • If your child is a preschooler and naps at childcare or the babysitters, again find out what time their nap is and follow that same routine on the weekends.
  • For school age kids, write out the morning schedule and post it in several places around your home. Use pictures for younger children. Include the following in the kid’s daily schedule:
    1.  Brushing their teeth
    2.  Showers if they shower in the morning
    3.  Making their bed or straightening their rooms
    4.  Eating breakfast
    5.  Devotion time with family
    6.  Feeding the pet
    7.  Gather their school supplies for the day
    8.  Other things you want or expect your child to do each day
  • Stick to the written schedule if at all possible the first few days of school.
  • On the weekends, even though you may want to sleep in, it is important for kids to follow as close as possible the weekday morning schedule. This is especially true if you have an ADHD child or a child with any special needs.
  • After children get into the routine of school starting and begin to feel comfortable with the new school year, you can begin to back off the rigid morning schedule.
  • For school age children, make them responsible for getting themselves up each morning. Encourage them to use an alarm.
  • Remember to include an evening routine in the written schedule.
  • In the evening schedule encourage school age children to get supplies and lunches prepared the night before.
  • On the evening schedule include a time where school age children lay out their clothes the night before.

If you are a children’s pastor or church volunteer it is important that you also have a written schedule posted in your classrooms. Your sessions will go a lot smoother if everyone knows what is to come. Remember routines and schedules build security and help children feel safe.

For some children of divorce giving them a written schedule is important. In DC4K at my church we not only have the schedule posted on a large poster, sometimes we also give some children a small laminated schedule of our sessions. They can keep it in their pockets or wear them around their necks.

If schedules are consistent they become a pattern. Our brains look for patterns; they actually seek patterns. Once the pattern is set in each environment – home, school, church and other parent’s home – children will feel comfortable and be able to learn, laugh, play and enjoy their surroundings and the people in them.


DC4K blogs posts are great to use in training children’s leaders and volunteers and they are free.  Subscribe to the DC4K blog here.

Want to learn more about how to start a DivorceCare for Kids group for the hurting children in your community? Click here.





3 thoughts on “Helpful tip #3 for starting the school year: The importance of schedules.

  1. I have a son who has Aspergers and I try to keep to a schedule for him so the meltdown do not happen at my place. But when he is at his dads there is nota schedule in place so when I get my son back it take 2 days to get him back to his schedule and then I get one good day with him and then it is back to his dads.

    • Amy, sounds like you are doing all you can for your son. Keep it up. Keep the schedule at your house and pray without ceasing for his dad to figure out the importance of a schedule. I know it is tough. Thank you for sharing your situation.

  2. Pingback: DC4K » Question of the week: How do you prepare your child for the disruption of their schedule?

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