Summer is a great time for kids to go on new adventures, experience different things, and spend time with family and friends, but before long, school bells will be ringing and big yellow buses will be back on the road. In the few short months of summer, it is easy for kids to get out of a routine, but it is important for them to return to their routine once school resumes.

Children can benefit from having a routine in many ways. For example, research suggests that having a routine helps children feel safe and secure in their home environment because of the predictability of each day. Participating in a routine also teaches children which values and beliefs are important to your family and can provide a way of teaching children about healthy habits. Another way routines benefit children is by setting their internal body clocks. This is particularly helpful when it comes to bedtime, especially when kids reach their teenage years.  Routines also lessen the chance that a child will forget to do something, such as take the trash out or take their medicine. Plus, parents also benefit from family routines by having more free time and creating a more efficient household!

There are several things that could be included in a child’s daily routine. Eating regular meals, doing homework, brushing their teeth, or celebrating holidays are all examples of common activities that kids would benefit from if a routine was established. Including household chores into a child’s everyday routine is helpful to help them remember, such as caring for pets, taking out the trash, or setting the dinner table. It is important to understand that routines are all about choices, but integrating healthy habits into children’s’ routines is essential for them to understand the importance of making healthy choices. One easy way to do so is by incorporating the 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® countdown into part of your child’s everyday routine. Encourage your kids to follow this simple Healthy Kids Countdown to teach them the importance of making healthy choices:

  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • 4 servings of water a day
  • 3 servings of low-fat dairy a day
  • 2 hours or less of screen time a day
  • 1 hour or more of physical activity a day

Click above image download a printable Back-to-School Checklist

To help your kids make these healthy choices, adults must lead by example and make it visual. Research has shown that visuals increase the likelihood of completing tasks and by having a countdown tracker on the fridge or acting as an example at home, kids will be constantly reminded to complete their everyday tasks and meet all five steps of the 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® countdown. Doing things together as a family is helpful for everyone to learn about their responsibilities and how to have fun together while completing their everyday tasks!

Visit GoNebraskaKids.org for more information about 5-4-3-2-1 Go! ®, the Healthy Kids Countdown and to find different ways to encourage your children to make healthy choices. Print out a daily or monthly countdown checklist for your kids to see every day and challenge your family to complete the countdown during their everyday routine. Find other coloring books, memory games, word and picture searches so your children can learn about healthy habits – without even realizing they are learning!

This post was originally shared on livewellomahakids.org on August 8, 2016.