Morning routine for school: the whys and hows
Children don't understand time in the same way as adults. This can make school mornings a stressful time of day for families.
Staying calm and being organised in the morning will help you all feel positive about the day ahead. On the other hand, fighting with children in the morning makes it harder for your child to enjoy school and for you to work well. It even increases the risk of you having an accident at work.
The most useful way to reduce morning chaos is to set up a morning routine. Sticking to a morning routine for school helps your children predict what's coming, and remember what they need to do.
Here are ideas to take some of the pressure out of school mornings - even if things don't always go smoothly!
Planning ahead for school mornings
The first step in your morning routine for school is to think about what you need to do and work out a plan for doing it. You'll probably find that you and your child can do many things the night before.
Here are some ideas:
- Try to find out the night before (or even earlier) if there's something special happening at school the next day.
- Think about having a weekly schedule or calendar with reminders of what your child needs to take to school each day - for example, library books, sports clothes, show and tell, and so on. You can keep this on the fridge so everyone knows what's happening.
- Organise lunches and get breakfast things ready for the morning rush. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, and helps your child to concentrate better at school.
- Get your child to have a bath or shower the night before. This means you won't have to worry about this in the morning.
- You might know something is going to come up that could cause conflict, like your child not wanting to eat breakfast, or wanting to wear sneakers rather than school shoes. Talk about it the night before when everybody has time and you're all less likely to be stressed.
- Think about getting ready for your day the night before as well, to help ease time pressure in the morning.
Your morning routine for school: tips
Rushing can really increase everyone's stress levels, so it helps to give yourself a bit more time in the morning. One of the best ways to do this is to get up 15-30 minutes earlier.
Here are more tips to take the stress out of mornings:
- Think about an alarm for children who find it hard to wake up or don't like getting out of bed.
- Tackle the morning as positively and as optimistically as you can. Good moods can be infectious. One way to do this is by focusing on the positive aspects of your children's behaviour and praising them - for example, 'Great to see you eating some toast'.
- Give your children calm, clear instructions about what you want them to do, and follow up with specific praise as soon as they start to cooperate. You might need to remind younger children more often about what they're meant to be doing and when. Simple 'to do' checklists, even with pictures, can help.
- As your children get older and more capable, encourage them to do more for themselves. For example, an eight-year-old can get dressed on his own, make his own breakfast, and tidy up after himself. A five-year-old can do things like putting his lunch box in his bag.
- Cut down on distractions like television, tablets and other devices. Many families have a rule about no screen time in the morning. Think about leaving screens off, unless screen time is a special treat for being ready on time.
- Try not to give your children extra attention for arguing, whining or stalling. Even negative attention is an incentive for them to keep going with this behaviour.
- Make it fun - for example, try our 'Beat the buzzer' game to encourage your child to be ready on time.