Children in our society are often rushed and ordered around, especially in the mornings. Parents tell me this is the time they are most likely to become, shall we say, unpleasant with their children.
It is important to consider how mornings are going, because morning sets the tone for the day. We would like children to arrive at school feeling happy and peaceful, not stressed. Walking in late can be disruptive to child and class, so make an effort to set up an efficient morning routine and avoid running late.
A good morning starts the night before. Everything that can be done to ease the morning should be. Some ideas:
Child packs school bag and/or lunch and places them by the door
Check that shoes or boots, coat, snow pants, TWO mittens, hat, etc. are ready. Provide low coat hooks and manageable storage near the door for these.
The child lays out clothing for tomorrow
Use the toilet
Snack and/or drink (if bed wetting is not a problem)
Pleasant stories - no monsters or disasters, and no television in the evening. Light from any screen hinders sleep.
Begin the evening routine with the necessities, followed by some pleasant, quiet time together, perhaps reading stories, saying prayers, tucking in, expressing your love for your child. This could all be done by candlelight.
Your child should go to bed at approximately the same time each evening to set asleep habit. Most young children need a bedtime of 7:30 or 8 p.m. Allow for ten hours of sleep, or more.
Plan an evening routine for yourself also. Prepare for the morning. Plan eight hours of sleep, or whatever you know you need to feel rested. This helps you to be pleasant in the morning!
Get up a half-hour before your children so you have time to get yourself ready, uninterrupted. Then, greet them with a smile! This sets the tone for a good day.
Children’s morning routines may include the following:
They get up on time, using an alarm.
Make the bed. Simplify bedding, perhaps using just a duvet.
Use the bathroom.
Get dressed in the clothing chosen the night before. Provide clothing that children can put on independently.
When they finish these steps, THEN they may join you for a lovely breakfast. You have spent the last little while preparing this breakfast, INSTEAD OF nagging your children. I call this the "Muffin Method". Remember, no nagging. They will know what needs to be done once the routine is established.
If they are ready early, then reward them with time spent in an activity they enjoy. Perhaps they have 20 minutes to play outside before they leave. (Note: Getting outdoors before school aids concentration).
What’s your routine now? Searching for shoes, laundry, the school bag, car keys…
Easier mornings start THE NIGHT BEFORE. Do everything you can ahead of time.
For both morning and night,observe how long it takes your child to get ready INDEPENDENTLY, with no unneeded help from you. Allow this much time, plus some extra.
I find that children respond better to nonverbal cues than verbal reminders. Instead of repeating “Time to go!” numerous times, I would just get my jacket and keys, and slowly head for the door, about 10 minutes early. If a child is not ready and it is time to go, I put a young child in the car “as is” (unless it is dangerously cold). They might get dressed quickly in the car (they must be buckled before we depart), or at school. This could be too embarrassing for some children, but it can be a very effective logical consequence.
Once your mornings are running smoothly, you may find you have some extra time. Enjoy that time together reading a book, playing a game, playing outside, listening to music, or having a conversation…something healthy that your child especially enjoys. No television before school – it has a sedentary effect on children and adults alike.