Monday, August 8, 2011

Implementing the Back to School Morning Routine

No matter what type of education our children pursue or how we conduct our summers, back to school season forces all of us parents to reevaluate our schedules. The morning routine applies to homeschoolers and "brick and mortar" schoolers alike:

School bus
Photo Credit
Whatever you decide should be part of your morning routine, I suggest you start implementing it a week or two before the official "first day of school".  The essentials are that your child get up at a time that won't require rushing, get dressed easily, gather necessary supplies, eat a nourishing breakfast and get to school (whether on the bus or at the kitchen table) in a timely manner.

1. Getting Up. 

You will need to decide how your child generally wakes up. If your child wakes easily, simply going to them and waking them up should do it. If it is especially hard to get them out of bed, you might want to set a traditional alarm but set it for 10 minutes before they actually need to get up. Set a second alarm for that time, and let them know that they must be out of bed at the second alarm since you gave them adequate warning. You'll also have to evaluate how quickly your child moves in the morning. Is he energetic or does she drag for awhile after waking? The "slow movers" will probably need an earlier alarm.

2. Getting Dressed Easily.
Consider hanging your child's clothes as complete outfits or folding them neatly in an easily accessible drawer. The less you have to do to help them dress, the better. Inlist the help of older children to assist the younger ones with simple dressing or just putting on socks and shoes. You will need to be sure this doesn't impede their own progress, though!

3. Gather Necessary Supplies.
The best way to do this is the night before. Make sure you check any homework or papers that need to be taken to school before the child goes to bed. If you homeschool, make sure the lessons are prepared so they can start right away. You may even want to end the previous day's schoolwork with preparing for the next day by sharpening pencils, filing schoolwork, etc. If your children go to school, you might keep their bookbags near the front door so they can just grab them as they leave.

4. Eat a Nourishing Breakfast.
Regardless of your stance on healthy eating, you will have to agree that toaster pastries or cereal alone will probably not hold your child until lunch time. A few quick and easy breakfasts are oatmeal which can be prepared in the crockpot the night before, homemade pancakes, waffles or breakfast burritos prepared ahead and frozen so they can just be popped into the microwave to reheat, or make granola parfaits the night before and keep them in the fridge. If there is time, you could whip up smoothies or an egg dish. Make sure the meal has a protein and fruit with it so your child can concentrate on schoolwork rather than a hungry tummy.
Breakfast, Austin, Texas, USA
Photo Credit
 5. Get to School in a Timely Manner.
Whenever I have to go somewhere with just the kids (I don't try to schedule my husband...I'm not his mother!), I build a margin in to make sure I get there on time. The times I neglect the margin are inevitably the times I am running late. For example, if you know the bus will arrive at 7:30, make sure your child is completely ready by 7:15. If you know your child's school starts at 8:00 and it's a 10 minute drive, have everyone in the car by 7:30. There will always be those mornings when you don't make it, but you should still be on time because of your margin. Homeschoolers can adapt this principle in a more general manner since specific times are likely not necessary.

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