Inside: We all love teaching our children independent behaviors and here’s a great one. School mornings can be so frazzled so here’s one thing that’ll make it run smoother for your family. This post was originally published 3 years ago when my oldest began Kindergarten and has been updated.
It ain’t easy being a School Mom.
When my first started Kindergarten, I didn’t think it’d be that tough. But honestly, it gave our normal stay at home routine a good kick in the pants. Until I had it figured out, I lost hours per week I’d previously spent reading or working.
Then I had a shocking thought one morning… in a few years I’ll have to get 5 kids ready for school.
And that was enough to lead me on the road of School Morning Independence.
So far I’ve used this exact method with my oldest two kids, both of whom were able to get themselves up for school, make their beds, clean their rooms, get dressed, and come down to breakfast fully ready in about 20 minutes without my help.
It took a week or so of work and then they flew with it all year! It has been generally less work than our more free summer time schedule because they love knowing exactly what to expect.
So without further ado…
How I Taught My Kids to Get Themselves Ready for School
This is the process I use with my kids when they begin Kindergarten.
- I created these routine cards that can be printed out and used in any order. Each child (or each bedroom) has one set. If kids share, one set of cards is fine.
- I printed the routine cards, chose the activities we typically do, then laminated them.
- I go over the whole routine from start to finish with each child. They offer up their ideas about what should come first, etc. and then we make it official.
- I take one evening before bed to find the perfect spot in their room. My daughter liked hers hung where she could see it from bed and my son wanted his on the back of the door.
- On the morning of, I will either have their alarm set or wake them up with some kisses, hugs, and a minute or two of connection. Then I point them to the routine cards.
- As of this updating, my oldest has an alarm clock, my second grader will have an alarm clock, but I will personally wake up my Kindergartner to have some connection time. I find as the kids get older they need less of you helping them on track, but when they are younger and first starting school this connection time early in the day is a great encouragement and building up for your child.
- Some children will want to come to you and announce ever individual thing they’ve done in their routine. This is great! Lather on the excitement! If they need help, always refocus them to the routine cards themselves.
- If you have a dilly dallier, you may need to keep track of time so they don’t end up needing to do 20 minutes of stuff in 5 minutes and thus start power battles and short tempers.
- I took the first week of school to help the child reference the routine cards in the morning. I remained close by for support and connection, and this encouraged them to enjoy the independence that came with the cards. Gradually as the days went by, they did not need me there and were happy to get ready on their own.
The following situations could cause your child to have issues at any given point in the routine. This is normal, simply work through each one individually and watch them fly.
- If they are tired. I encourage a set bedtime on school evenings to help with this.
- If things aren’t “organized well.” If clothes aren’t picked out before (hopefully avoiding wardrobe battles) or if their shoes and backpack aren’t visible, they can lose track and get off task.
- If I don’t keep the flow moving. This was particularly important in those first few weeks when I needed to help keep the kids moving along with the various routine card elements.
- If the kids are craving connection, they might dilly dally or avoid carrying out the tasks because they want you there. Don’t get frustrated here, just give them a few minutes when they wake up of dedicated time and this will usually be enough to help them move through the routine.
Tips for Encouraging Morning Independence
- View these routine cards as a process. The morning routine is made up of a lot of little parts and teaching them all individually and having patience as they come together is the name of the game.
- Any particular random thing might disrupt the routine – like a child not liking the way their sock seam feels in their shoe (heaven help us all!) – so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater if you run into trouble. Troubleshoot that area and keep going.
- This worked for the entire year when they were in school. The hard work that first week paid off all school year long.
- Help your child follow the routine by regularly pointing them towards the cards. Don’t tell them what they should be doing because then they are learning to take their cues from you. This requires you in their room. If you reference the cards they learn to keep the flow of the routine whether you are in their room or elsewhere.
All in all, this has been a HUGE sanity saver for me over the years.
If you have more than one child in school, I cannot emphasize how much easier your mornings will be if you are able to hand the responsibility of the Morning Routine over to your child.
And when they’ve got the hang of it, they love how good it feels to walk to the breakfast table, fully ready to start the day.
Without power battles.
Without you doing it all for them.
You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily, the secret of your success is found in your daily routine. – John Maxwell
I’ve created a free email series just for you! If you struggle with creating an easy flowing routine or rhythm in your home… this is it. I’ve gathered all my easiest routine hacks into one free series and, best of all, you can get a big sneak peak into our book that has over 25+ routines for babies ages 6 weeks to 5 years. This series will help you:
- find a routine and rhythm for your child
- learn how to juggle multiple routines (for 2 or 3+ kids)
- know what is and isn’t working so you can make one tweak that’ll change your day
Click here to sign up for my free email series or simply click on the image below.
New to this community? Start here, friend.