If you find yourself dragging your child out of bed, repeating yourself, or yelling at your child to get ready for school more mornings than not, here are some tips that you can use right away to make your mornings run more smoothly.
1. Waking up
Teach children to wake to an alarm clock instead of depending on you to wake them up. Waking up to an alarm clock is a skill that needs to be learned. When you feel your child is ready for it, getting him or her an alarm clock and teaching how to use it can give your child a sense of accomplishment. It helps to eliminate the need for repeated prompting to get out of bed or to complete certain tasks, and helps eliminate the conflict that often ensues when your child does not comply. It also helps children build valuable independent waking skills that they will need to use for the rest of their life.
2. Plan a schedule
Sit down with your child and together work out a realistic morning routine that he or she should follow, complete with expected times for completing needed activities. Make this a fun activity for you and your child. Write the morning schedule down on paper and post it in a visible location. If needed, turn the morning schedule into a colorful reward chart that your child can use to mark off days and activities when they are completed. Praise, special time spent with parents, ten extra minutes before bed, a healthy snack, etc. can all be used as rewards to help motivate your child to follow the schedule successfully.
When developing a morning schedule, tailor the times and activities to meet the needs of your child and family. Some children need more time to eat; others to clean up, others to get dressed. Some children prefer to get dressed before eating breakfast, others to eat breakfast first. Children like to, and should have, some control over their lives, so rather than strictly imposing your own idea of what the morning schedule should be, ask your child to help plan it. He or she will feel more invested in it and will feel more pride in accomplishing the tasks.
3. Lay things out
The night before: Teach children to decide upon and lay out clothing that they will need for school the next day. This will eliminate precious wasted time in the morning when they need to be moving along to get out the door for school.
4. Prepare ahead
The night before: If your child takes a lunch to school, either you or your child should pack and refrigerate it the night before. If your child buys lunch, ensure that he or she has lunch money or lunch ticket. It is also helpful, will save time, and make your child’s morning go smoother if you set out the cereal bowls, plates, cups, etc. that he or she will need for breakfast.
5. Final check
The night before: Check your child’s planner and homework to make sure that all homework has been completed. Do this early enough in the evening that your child will have time to complete any unfinished homework that may be found. Help your child to pack, or check, his or her backpack to make sure that it contains all books, homework, planner, excuses, notes, gym clothes, or supplies that are needed to be taken to school the next day.
Example morning schedule
6:25 am Wake up
6:30 am Breakfast
7:00 am Wash face, brush hair, brush teeth
7:20 am Get dressed, put on shoes
7:35 am Get lunch and put it in the backpack. Put on jacket.
7:40 am Out the door
Give these tips a try. I hope they will help you and your child to start off the day on a happier foot!
Do you have any tips to add? I would love to have you share them with us.
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—Rebecca Williams, MEd, LPC, NCC