How to get kids to listen and follow routines

Are you a parent or teacher struggling to get your kids to listen? Do their homework? Or get organised?

It can be tricky to get kids to listen and follow routines, but with these tips, it could get a little easier.

Maybe you’ve got a child with dyslexia, ADHD, or slow processing who just can’t seem to get out the door in the morning.

If you’re a teacher you could use this for the morning classroom routines or getting children organized for PE or anywhere that they’ve got a regular routine.

These 5 strategies help kids get organized and following their own steps with more independence. They are helpful for all children, especially children with dyslexia.

1. Create a visual timetable

How to get kids to listen and follow a routine

A visual timetable can be created to guide children through every step of a routine, like getting ready for school.

I made a visual timetable for my nephew who is homeschooling. He had some difficulty getting himself organized in the morning.

The visual timetable has all the steps of the morning routine, with photos. He was 13 so I tried to choose pictures that would appeal to him.

This may seem obvious and a lot of parents say “I’ve made one of these and they don’t follow it”. Try putting one in every room the child visits in the mornings so that they can’t escape it.

2. Make the visual timetable with your child/students

How to get kids to listen and follow a routine

So in order to get them to follow it, the first thing you need to do is get the child to have some input into making the visual timetable.

So sit down and go through the steps of their daily routine and record it with them.

Even get their input for the pictures, so you’re getting them to agree to do these things rather than just telling them.

3. Support the child to become independent

How to get kids to listen and follow a routine

When you’re actually going through the routine, rather than telling them every step, so instead of saying it’s time to get up. Have you put your clothes on? Have you put your books in your bag? Etc.

You can just say, have you done the next thing on your chart?

So you’re removing yourself just that one step from the process.

Rather than telling them what they have to do, your just saying have you checked the chart?

When I first started doing this with my nephew I had to say have you checked the chart a lot because he would go and sit down and watch tv, eat breakfast and then go and sit down and watch tv, brush his teeth and then go and sit down and watch tv.

Each time I would just say is there anything left on your chart?

4. Put the timetable in multiple places

How to get kids to listen and follow a routine

The other recommendation is to put these in a number of places in your house or in your classroom.

Put one on the fridge door, in the bathroom and in your child’s bedroom, so that wherever they go in the morning, there is a visual timetable to refer to.

At first, you will have to keep telling your child to come back and look at what they have to do but after a while, they just know that if they finished one thing they need to go back to the chart and check if there was still anything left.

This gives them the structured scaffolding to get more and more independent with getting organized.

5. Practice the routine

How to get kids to listen and follow routines


Another great way to get kids to listen and follow routines is to practice this routine on a morning in the holidays. So make the visual timetable over the holidays and then have a few practice runs with the child when you know they’re not necessarily having to get out by a certain time because at first, it will take a long time. But over time as a child gets to learn the steps in their sequence, it should speed up.


By practising it when you’re not in a really stressful situation it can really help.


6. Prepare

The final tip I have for you is to do all the prep you can before the event, so if it is a getting ready for school routine maybe there is homework that can be packed into the bag the night before. Maybe they can have their uniforms laid out the night before and again trying to get the child to be as independent as possible with this.

So at first, you’re supporting them but over time you’re removing the support. So it might start with you showing them what they’ve got to lay out and what they’ve got to do then you can have them do it with you.

So you could say okay what do we normally do first? Oh, we normally put my books in the bag. Okay great go ahead and do that!

What do we normally do next? I’ve got a make sure that my shoes in my uniform are laid out. Awesome go do that!

So you’re getting them to kind of verbalize it and then over time hopefully you’ll just be able to say okay it’s time to go and get prepped for school for tomorrow before we do our bed routine.

It does take a little bit of time and input in the beginning but it will save a whole lot of heartache at those times when you just got to get out the door and it’s taking far too long.

I hope these tips help you to get your child or student to listen and follow routines with greater success. Please write to me and let me know how you get on!

Click here to download my visual timetable template


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