What a daily routine for 4-year-olds consists of can vary greatly. Some parents are intent on filling their child’s day with school prep and reading practice. Other parents want their kids to play outside as often as possible.
Chances are, you’re somewhere in between the two. You want your kids to be successful and smart, but you don’t want them to be so jam-packed with schoolwork that they have no time to be a child.
(On the other hand, every parent has those days when they don’t have energy for anything other than Netflix and Mac-N-Cheese).
The key is to find a happy medium. Balance can be found in consistency, so here are our top tips for a consistent morning routine for your toddler.
Plus! Use this free printable daily routine for 4-year-olds, which includes free routine cards your child can put on the fridge or on their bedroom door.
What Goes Into the Ideal Daily Routine for 4-Year-Olds?
Each parent will have different ideas on what’s ideal for their toddler. However, certain things happen in almost every 4-year-old’s daily routine.
(You can help your child remember this routine by posting our free printable in her bedroom!)
Wake Up & Eat Breakfast
4 is a great age for kids to practice responsibility. You can teach your child to be responsible for their own breakfast by keeping milk and cereal in smaller containers. This makes it easier for little ones to pour without spilling.
You can put cereal in a candy-sized dispenser like this one. You may also consider buying a pint of milk during your next grocery trip; keep the container and re-fill it from the gallon.
Chances are, when your child turns 5 you’ll want herto be able to dress herself each day before school. Now is the best time to practice. Take stock of your child’s room and how easy it is for her to access her clothes. Make changes as needed.
While your child is in the bedroom, have her practice making her bed. It won’t be perfect, of course, but this is the best age to start making habits.
Brush Teeth & Hair
Next, your child can brush her own teeth and hair (with supervision). Your child might also like to pick her own hair accessories.
Individual play is important for children. If your child is a social butterfly, spending some playtime alone will help her learn to be content by herself. If your child is an introvert, individual play will give her some much-needed space.
Free play is also important. Playing together allows kids to practice sharing and interacting with one another. Try to make time for both free play and individual play in the daily routine for your 4-year-old.
Clean-Up & Chores
Do your kids do chores? If not, now’s the time to start incorporating chore time into your daily routine.
Pro Tip: When kids see Mom, Dad, and their Au Pair cleaning, they’re more likely to emulate the behavior!
Lunchtime is so important. When kids are hungry, they often become cranky. Having lunch on time, at roughly the same time every day, can minimize the tantrums and meltdowns.
Most parents want their kids to be able to recognize letters and letter sounds by the time they go to kindergarten. Reading with parents and childcare providers at a young age is important for setting an expectation of reading in your household.
Make time to read with your 4-year-old every day. Phonics programs that teach letter sounds are a great way to get your child started on reading before kindergarten.
Quiet Time/ Nap
Even if your child doesn’t nap anymore, quiet time is a great way to help her wind down and take a little rest. Especially if your child starts to get grouchy after lunchtime, quiet time can give her the boost she needs to make it through the rest of the day without too many meltdowns.
If your child won’t sleep, encourage her to sit on her bed and read or play quietly.
Free Play or TV
After nap time is a great time for free play. Or, if your child is allowed screen time, this is also a good time for TV. Either one gives you some time to prepare dinner while she’s occupied. (And hopefully, after having a nap, she isn’t demanding all of your attention at this time of the day).
It’s wise not to allow any screen time after dinner, as watching TV before bed actually keeps your child awake longer.
Dinner & Family Time
After dinner is the perfect time for family time. You’re more likely to make family time into a habit if you set the expectation that this time of day is always family time.
This is also a great time of day for special time, or time in which your child gets to play anything they want to with Mom and Dad. Special time can span between 10-15 minutes (or longer if you’d like), and it shows your kids that you prioritize spending time with them. Be sure to show them your dedication by ignoring phones and screens during special time.
A simple bedtime routine is the easiest to maintain. The shorter it is, the less likely your children will find things to delay bedtime.
Our bedtime routine goes as follows:
- Brush teeth
- Go potty
- Get water
- Put on PJs
- Hugs & kisses
- Get tucked in
- Lights out
We don’t usually do bath time while getting ready for bed, because our Au Pair handles bath time during the day. The kids love to play in the bath so much, she lets them have longer baths than we do.
We used to read bedtime stories, but we no longer do that, either. The kids get their stories during the daytime so they can’t use books to stall bedtime.
Start Making Your 4-Year-Old’s New Daily Routine a Habit
Want to help your 4-year-old make this routine a habit? Here’s a handy free printable daily routine for 4-year-olds to help you get started!
Plus, for a fun way to help your child keep track of her routine, download our free printable routine cards.