Ah, that back to school feeling… Whether you’re feeling relieved the 8 weeks are over, or regretting the fact the time flew by so quickly, I’m sure we’re all dreading those frantic school mornings that will soon be upon us. As well as over-hauling your children’s pencil cases for the new term, why not also take a look at your morning routine and see whether you can put in any of these simple ‘hacks’ to make everyone’s first experiences of the day that little bit nicer…
5 hacks for a smoother morning routine
- Plan your ‘morning timetable’ in advance. Knowing what you want to accomplish, in what order, is the first step to actually achieving it! It will also help you set clear expectations for your child. Then use these handy visuals to create your own morning visual timetable for your child (http://porch.com/gigglesgalore/school-morning-routine-checklist-with-free-printable/ )
- Give your child a visual checklist for items they need to get for themselves (ideally laminated to help it last!), and teach them to tick off the items themselves with a dry-wipe marker if they are old enough. Practice using this together when leaving the house for other activities before the start of term (download below)
- Prepare the night before
- Lay out your child’s school uniform, in a neat pile layered in the order your child needs to put the items on in (i.e. underwear on the top, jumper on the bottom).
- Set out breakfast so that your child can help themselves.
- Check whether there’s anything extra your child needs for school the next day, such as P.E. kit or cakes for a cake stall. Then involve your child in getting these things ready.
- Make the tricky parts of the routine into a game or challenge. Which part of the morning routine do you dread most – brushing teeth? Getting dressed? Think about how you can add an element of fun, or competition, into these activities – either racing against a timer to get dressed a little bit quicker every day, or seeing if your child can put their coat and shoes on in the time it takes you to sing (one or two) verse(s) of ‘if you’re happy and you know it’. For teeth brushing, download the free ‘Brush DJ’ app which plays 2 minutes of music to keep your child brushing for the recommended amount of time.
- Motivate your child to be more independent in their routines (i.e. doing the next step on the timetable without being asked, or getting the items on the ticklist), either via verbal praise, the opportunity to do a preferred activity once they have done their routine (e.g. watching a bit of TV), or with a reward chart
The above ‘hacks’ reflect the general advice we give for children with communication difficulties – use visuals to support understanding and develop independence, work in an element of fun or challenge, and notice and reward the positives. More information about using visuals to help children understand routines, and changes to these, is included in our Autism course – even if this diagnosis does not apply to your child you may be able to pick up some more tips. Good luck in getting your mornings off to a flying start!
Below is an example check list, you can customise it with the items your child needs to take to school with them every day. If possible, insert photos of your child’s actual rucksack, lunch box etc.
For school I need..
Written by Alys Mathers, Speech and Language Therapist