For many parents, no matter what the age of your children, school mornings are everything but routine.
It may not seem to be rocket science, but getting a child or teen up, dressed, fed, brushed and out the door on time is often a major accomplishment. In preparation for back-to-school this fall, make mornings a little less manic with these local parents’ easy and creative solutions.
“MANAGED” MORNINGS ARE CRUCIAL
Aside from the personal sanity that goes along with getting our children to school and ourselves to work on time, there are long-term benefits to organized, managed mornings. Education experts claim that setting a positive stress-free tone at home each day greatly increases a student’s success at school. Just as important, studies by the U.S. Department of Education show frequently tardy students feel disconnected with school and typically have lower GPAs, higher rates of disciplinary measures and lower graduation rates.
BE PREPARED AND BE ORGANIZED
As any parent knows, a smooth morning can quickly become derailed by that last-minute search for a special shirt or overdue library book. Laying out clothes and even breakfast ahead of time are proven time savers. For Alisa Sterling, mom of twin 15-year-old boys, advanced preparation has long been a mantra. “It has always worked for us to have lunches ready the night before and backpacks packed with homework, P.E. clothes and practice gear,” explains the Rescue mom. Like many parents she also urges her teens to keep everything – backpacks, books, shoes and coats – in the same place every day.
Let’s face it – even adults work better with incentive. Providing school-aged kids a little encouragement can go a long way to taming morning mania. Lisa Hart of Cameron Park credits a “bonus points” reward system to averting morning battles with her almost second graders. “Once our boys knew the morning routine, we started giving them bonus points if they did it on their own or did something extra. Points earn a treat like frozen yogurt after school.”
PUT IT IN WRITING
Some kids need visual reminders to stay on task. In our home, a morning schedule is posted in each child’s room and in the kitchen. There’s also a monthly calendar (prominently displayed) listing all school and sports activities, to help empower them to manage their own time and preparation needs. Empowerment also works for Kim Buckmaster, an El Dorado Hills mom of four. “I have a pre-printed checklist for each of the kids to complete before bedtime,” she explains. “Each day has a different list for each kid, depending on what they need to do. They just pull their list from their drawer each night.” Alarm clocks, watches and timers also are great ways to remove parents from the motivation equation.
PICK YOUR BATTLES
Some things like eating breakfast and wearing shoes are non-negotiable, but other battles can be surrendered with little consequence. It truly doesn’t matter if your daughter goes to class in a tiara. If you could see some of the outfits my seven-year-old wears to school, you would laugh out loud. But at least he arrives to school on time, nourished and ready to learn. That’s a true accomplishment.