Back to School: Morning Routine for Kids

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by Laura

You guys and your back to school pictures!  I’m loving it.  Here in Iowa there’s still about three weeks left to go until that first school bell rings.  So whether you are already packing lunches or your running to Target to get school supplies, this post will help your mornings!  

It is no secret that kids love and thrive on a routine.  Just think, if you do something differently than you normally do, those kids let you know!  For a school morning to have less chaos and more order, a morning routine that you and the kids can count on will help everyone to know what their job is, and when to do it!  

First things first.  


1. Time to leave for school.  

I know this sounds backwards, but when I do a schedule it’s easier for me to work backwards.  Because school always starts at the same time that’s an easy beginning. So then calculate what time we need to leave for school.  Wether your kids walk, ride the bus, do carpool…the leave time is usually the same.  So if you leave the house at 8:10 to get to school at 8:20, that’s your start!  

2.  Prepare to leave. 

Now we need to calculate how long it takes your children/your family to be ready to step out the door.  Shoes on, coats on, bathroom, gather backpack and lunch.  I highly recommend the backpack be at the door before they go to sleep the night before.  Here’s some other night before suggestions

Put a list on the door to check and make sure they have everything.  If they have gym on Monday that needs to go on the door list too.  A dry erase board by the door might be great if there’s violin’s to carry on Tuesday’s and a color of clothes to wear on Friday.  

 If your child has trouble calming before school you could also add in 5 minutes to spend with them one-on-one.  Maybe read a book together, play a quick card game, spend some time talking.  I usually factor in 10 minutes for this entire section and it used to be 15 when they were younger.  

3.  Morning Routine.

Here’s where the schedule will depend on the family.  Do the kids like to get dressed before they eat breakfast, or after, or some of my high school days DURING.  Do they want to shower right when they wake up or last?  Either way, work out how much time it should take them to complete those tasks and write that down.

 If you have older kids, (middle school and above) sit down with them and have them create their own morning schedule factoring in everyone’s bathroom time etc.  Approve their schedule and allow them time to tweak and make mistakes but be there to encourage them.  This will go a long way when they are off on their first year of school learning how much time it takes to be ready for class, without any parental reminders.   Can you imagine starting college having never woken yourself up before or been nagged all morning when to do each thing?!  Adulting is coming.  


In our family the kids wake up and immediately want to come for hugs and then they want to eat breakfast right away.  After breakfast they know to clear the table, and that it’s time for their “Morning Things”.  My 5 year old and 3 year old are fully capable or remembering what to do, and can do it independently but that took a LOT of training.  They must get dressed, make bed, brush teeth and hair before any play is allowed.  Usually on school mornings there is very little time for play, but I do make time to read them a story like I mentioned above.  

Little kids do not have a good sense of time, so maybe have them carry around a timer the first few days so they know when to be done with each task.  My mom showed me this timer that let’s you see how much time you have left.  It’s a GREAT visual reminder to kids who can’t tell time yet.  


When I was growing up I usually had to complete a chore before I went to school as well and this started in Elementary School.  Sometimes it was emptying all the trash, unloading the dishwasher, or putting in a load of laundry.  I could not go to school unless that was done and there were some mornings of arguments and me sprinting to school because my mom was good at holding her ground.  Thanks Mom.  

I suggest keeping a chore list to 1-2 things that take less than 4 minutes.  Mornings like these are stressful enough anyway.  

If they don’t complete everything needed, or if they don’t move fast enough, or wake up when you suggest, my advise is to allow the natural consequences.  If you leave the house with the children who are ready at 8:00 and one child is not ready, they can stay at home while you allow the others to be on time. Then you can come back home and negotiate how that child can get to school.  

If they miss the bus/carpool, they can walk or ride, they could pay you money to take them, or if safety is an issue you can follow them in your car while they walk to school.  Not your tardy-theirs.  That might sound harsh, but when they get a job in a few years and they are late, guess what, you get fired!  Allowing those natural consequences will relieve your nagging, and increase their learning.  I learned all about natural consequences this summer when I read the book, Have a New Kid by Friday, there’s a teenager version too.  I got the audio cd’s from the Library because I don’t have time to read.  BRILLIANT I tell you. 


One Touch Method

Remember our one touch method?  We also think this helps a lot with the morning routine.  Once they go into the bathroom have them complete all bathroom things, (shower, teeth, face, makeup, hair) instead of going in and out.  If bathrooms are limited have a family meeting to assign bathroom times, or move hair and makeup to their bedrooms.  If your kids miss their time, wait until it is open to the public.  

The one touch works in the bedroom too.  Go in, get dressed, make your bed, gather things for school, and check bedroom off your list.  

4.  Wake Up. 

Now it’s time to decide on each child’s school day wake time and how they will be woken up.  You will have to decide if you want to rewake them up, or be their human alarm clock after they choose to sleep through their own.  My mom did a bit of both.  She did natural consequences and watched me go from dead asleep to walking out the door to school in 10 minutes, and she also did a little of the storming into my room and telling me to get out of bed.  Both were good for me.  

Post the Schedule

Now that you have devised a schedule post it where everyone can see it.  Maybe each kid gets their own schedule posted on their door, or in the kitchen.  Don’t worry about making it fancy, a sharpie and a piece of paper work great!  Now live out your schedule for a week.  Tweak it and work with your kids on the order.  Train them on how to do each thing, and make sure they are aware of what they are responsible for independently and how they can know how much time they have taken.  

We hope your mornings are filled with excitement and calm expediency!  Happy Mornings!  



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