Why is Structure Important in Child Development?

7th June 2022

Structure and routine can help children feel safe and secure. This will also guide them in their behaviour and help them better understand limits and boundaries in different environments and situations. 

Structure, stability and predictability 

As children start to make sense of the world around them, they pick up cues on how to behave in a particular kind of environment or circumstance. With this knowledge and awareness, they can better get along with other children and make playtime more delightful and fun. 

Aside from guiding their behaviour and building their social awareness, having a structure and routine in their daily lives can also bring a sense of order and control. This is similar to how we structure our days according to our work hours. For instance, from 9 to 5 we work and schedule most other activities outside of those hours. With some structure and predictability, we can better plan and organise our days and weeks. For children, they might not yet be able to plan their days but they will still know what to expect and somehow feel in control of their lives. 

The dangers of overscheduling 

Setting and maintaining a structure and schedule can make the days predictable. However, going too far with this can exhaust and overwhelm children. For instance, a child might be enrolled in swimming, sports, dance and music classes and there’s not much time to breathe because the child goes straight to another class right after preschool and other extracurriculars. 

To prevent overwhelm and exhaustion, it helps to maintain some unstructured hours and days in our children’s schedules. Aside from taking a break and being able to relax, these unstructured and unplanned hours can help develop their creativity, imagination and initiative. That’s because the unstructured time gives them freedom to think, imagine and act independently. This can also encourage them to try out other interesting activities aside from the ones planned at home or early learning centre. 

Here at Footsteps Early Learning Centre, we facilitate some unstructured time for children to play and explore. We have a large outdoor play area that encourages children to actively play and explore. With this freedom and encouragement on exploration, children will be better able to think and act independently because it’s now up to them what to do and pursue during playtime.