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Helping parents and teachers understand the LEARNING benefits of all those wiggles & giggles!


We're all coming to terms with "the new normal." And as hard as new routines are for adults they're even harder for kids. And more essential. 

All parents know the importance of giving kids structure which includes a daily routine they come to count on. Routine gives children a sense of security and empowerment which helps them understand and navigate their world. 

But when routines are disrupted as they've been these past weeks, it's like trying to recite the days of the week in alphabetical order. Seriously. Have you ever tried that? If you haven't stop right now, don't read ahead, and recite the days of the week in alphabetical order. And don't use a pencil and paper. Come back when you're done.

Notice how you had to stop and rotate through all seven days several times to get them in the right order. You probably started with Monday, which of course, you later realized was wrong. You probably put Tuesday in front of Thursday too. Something so simple can be so halting when you change the order of things. 

And that's exactly how your child feels whenever his routine is disrupted.

Now that we've made the case for routine, there's an equally important argument to be made for flexibility and adaptability. Adapting to unexpected changes helps little ones learn to think on their feet -- an essential life skill as we all have to deal with unexpected situations, like right now. In other words, children need a balance of both - routine and spontanaeity.

And this is especially important right now because when things finally do go back to the "old normal," guess what? That's going to be their "new normal."

There's a game I used to play that is so much fun, we thought you might like to try it with your own family during these uncertain times. It's designed to give kids a sense of humor about life's unexpected situations by playing with their known sense of routine. It's creative, full of possibilities, and everyone in the family can play.

I call it Back to Front Day, where you take a day and do everything BACKWARDS! And I mean EVERYTHING. Here's how I do it. Feel free to improvise!

By living a day in reverse, kids learn to think in a different way because all day they'll be anticipating not what comes next, but what comes before! And if you involve them in the planning of the day, they will enjoy the unpredictable wackiness that comes with living backwards! 

Sit together with your kids and explain the idea so they can help you plan. Start by talking about your daily routine and what you do each day. Perhaps make a list or a chart and if your child isn't old enough to read, have him draw out the activities so he can see how the day unfolds. Then talk about how you can do it all backwards on Back to Front Day.

Here are some ideas to get you started. Be sure to brainstorm these and any other ideas with your child so he feels in control of the day. Here goes...

Start by giving your day a wacky name. For instance if you plan it for a Saturday, you could call it Yadrutas.

And while you're at it, give yourselves backwards names for the day. For instance, Pam becomes Map; Emily becomes Ylime, Mommy becomes Ymmom, Daddy becomes yddad, etc.

Then be sure to do everything backwards. For instance...

The night before get dressed in your clothes to go to bed. Sleep in your clothes. And be sure you are wearing them backwards.

When kids wake up, greet them with "Good Night!"

Snuggle in bed and read them a bedtime story. Be sure to read it backwards from the back cover to the front.

Walk backwards to the bathroom. (Actually, try to walk backwards all day.)

Brush your teeth – rinse first.

Have a bath. Dry from bottom to top, not top to bottom. Get out of the bath backwards and get into your pyjamas.

Spend the day in your pyjamas.

Have dinner for breakfast – dessert first. (Note, this will take some planning on your part, but I highly recommend spaghetti!) 

Everybody uses their non-dominant hand to eat. (If you're a rightie, use your left hand!)

At the dinner table talk about what's going to happen today. Review your backwards plan so everyone is reminded of what's going to happen. Project forward by planning backwards!

Do activities in the morning you would do normally do in the afternoon

At lunch, eat dessert first, and with the wrong hand.

Do activities in the afternoon you would do normally do in the morning

Have breakfast for dinner. (I highly recommend pancakes!)

Remember you will be in your PJ’s all day. So you will need to get dressed in your day clothes to go to bed. And don't forget to wish them a "Good Day" as they settle in for the night.

Whatever you choose to do, have fun with this. The sillier the better. And the longer you can keep it going throughout the day, the more fun you'll have. You might just find by the end of the day, living backwards feels pretty normal, proving that these days, "normal" is what we say it is!

Enjoy. (And please, send us pictures. We'd love to hear about your "yad!")

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