Every parent has a favorite horror story about The Morning Rush. There’s the tale of the backwards underwear, only discovered on the way to school. Or the Day the Thermos Exploded in the Backpack. Or there’s just an ongoing tale of many, many days of profound and general frenzy.
What can you do besides stand like an addled deer in your child’s zooming headlights? Experts say that that answer lies in routine, routine, routine. Here’s an activity that can help get all of you calmly out the door in the morning. It helps with reading development, too. Plus, it’s fun!
What You Do:
- Start by folding a sheet of typing paper in half lengthwise. Sit down with your child, discuss what really happens every morning, and in the left hand column, make a list of six common features. Be prepared to laugh—first graders can be amazingly observant. In our house, for example, a standard event was, “Mom forgets her cell phone and we have to double back to get it.” At the top of the page, you can mark this list, “Nonfiction,” and explain to your child that that means it’s a statement of true facts.
- Now, on the right hand side, ask your child what might change in each case to make things run smoother. (If you already have a smooth morning routine, go ahead and jump straight to this phase—you can just record what you already do.) Write the ideas on small post-its—you can then move them around when you’re done to make a logical sequence.
- Now you’re ready for some reading and writing. Have your child write each of the six things you just discussed onto a horizontal card stock page, creating six pages in order that convey a sensible, sane, orderly morning routine. At the very least, you’ll want to include items like putting on clothes (right side out), eating breakfast, and brushing teeth, and make sure you include a page for a warm goodbye before the school day starts.
- Now have your child use the markers to illustrate every page, with himself in a starring role, of course.
- Place three holes in the left margin and clip the book with clip on rings. This way, you can add or subtract pages later.
- At night before bed, have your child read the book to you. Talk it through and envision how the morning will go. Do it again and again ... and prepare to be amazed by the improvements in your morning routine.
Of course, on another day, feel free to take out that other list. There may be quite another tale to write about (perhaps one to laugh about once better routines are in place).
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.