What are your strategies for getting your child out of bed, ready for school and out the door on time every morning?
Our daughter loves school (first grade), but often we struggle to wake her up, get her to get dressed and get ready for school, and get to school on time. We've tried getting her up earlier (that didn't work -- in fact, it had opposite effect because it gave impression that there was plenty of time before she had to go). Aside from following her around and nagging her constantly, I'm wondering what other effective strategies parents apply to accomplish these daily tasks with the least amount of struggle and greatest amount of success.
That's great that your daughter loves going to school. I know it can be frustrating when kids aren't exactly cheerful or motivated in the morning before school. First, it may be important to look at what time your child is going to bed. Maybe it's a matter of getting her to bed earlier. Secondly, it will take some perserverance and follow through on your part. Instead of "nagging" at your child to do each individual activity before school, make sure they know what is expected of them. Write out a master list of their tasks on a white board, or on the fridge so you don't have to keep reminding them of what they need to accomplish. Next, make sure that you explain to them the specific consequences if they don't accomplish each task. For example, if they don't make their bed, maybe they lose 30 minutes of t.v. time that evening. The important thing is that you follow through with these consequences when they don't follow the rules. Lastly, don't forget positive praise!!!!!!! As a parent, it's easy to tell kids what they are doing wrong. They are more likely to remember to do something again when you told them how amazing they did it last time. Good Luck!!
dgraab - the member who asked this question - selected this as the best answer posted by another Education.com member.
from a fellow member
Having to struggle every morning with your child doesn’t help anyone start the day off right; it likely leaves all of you feeling anxious before the day has really begun.
With the upcoming school year quickly approaching, many parents want to have set strategies in place that will assure an ideal morning routine. As has been stated, getting her to bed earlier might help her rise easier and get her started earlier; a strict timeline for what time she goes to bed, arises, gets ready, etc. will also help. Initially it will be hard because as adults we’ve already learned that we’re accountable for our time and how we use it. With a young child, however, it’s a different story. Thus, it’s important that everyone try and stick as close to the regime as possible and enforce it. There will be some tough days and days when you think it just isn’t working, but eventually those bad days will be few and far between.
Here’s another idea to try. It’s something I’ve heard good things about and it’s supposed to encourage a more natural way of waking up than a blaring alarm clock or someone nudging you awake, no matter how gently. There’s a new type of alarm clock out there that uses natural light and sounds to wake sleepers gradually and much more soothingly than the jarring sound of a buzzer. The settings can generally be adjusted to what fits you best. Essentially, a natural light starts emanating approximately 15 minutes before the sounds starts. The gradual increase of light is supposed to simulate the sun rising and it gets brighter and brighter. After 15 minutes, sounds of nature begin and it gives the sleeper the impression that it’s past early morning and thus, time to arise.
It seems as though there is some additional frustration in your household surrounding her morning tasks. Nagging your way through a morning is certainly not pleasant.
You could use a reward system whereby when she remembered to do everything without prompting and in due time, she received a sticker for each task – dressing, brushing her teeth, eating all her breakfast and putting her dishes in the sink, etc. If she does understand time, you can have a set time when each of these tasks must be done in order to receive the reward. This is actually a great way to learn and practice time, as well as setting her own schedule if you give her some input about how long each task should take.
Given that she’s still quite young, I’d make sure to make any type of list “kid friendly”. Consider laminating it and letting her use a dry erase marker to check off the task each morning. Another thing that she might enjoy is if you made small cards (approximately 2” square) with a picture of each task that she has to complete. Place the pictures in the applicable room. For example, washing her face, brushing her teeth, and combing her hair go in the bathroom; eating breakfast, placing dishes/cutlery in sink goes in the kitchen and so on. You could line up the cards on the mirror/fridge, etc. using a strip of magnet/Velcro stuck to the bathroom mirror and on the backs of the cards. When your daughter finishes each task, she gets to place the card in a container and then brings the full container to you to show you that she’s finished. It’s not a lot of work to make up this kind of system. She can see a picture of what she has to do so there is no excuse of not being able to read something. She’ll also enjoy that she gets to take each card down as she finishes. This kind of system can actually be implemented throughout the house for other tasks that you may want from her. You can use it for a bedtime routine or for cleaning up her room or for her chores on a daily/weekly basis, including homework. Once she’s shown you that she’s completed the tasks, she gets her stickers and any of you can put the cards back where they belong for the next time they’re needed. In many ways, this will foster independence because your daughter will know what her “jobs” are and you won’t have to feel like you’re constantly on her case.
I wish you luck in whatever you decide to do. I’m well over her age and I still don’t like getting up in the morning!
I agree with Eliad - having a "no play until you're COMPLETELY ready for school" rule has worked really well for us with our first grader and preschooler. Sometimes it's painful and there's whining but I just say "if you'd use this time to get dressed instead of using it to complain you'd be playing by now!".
Also, have you ever used a marble jar? That's a tactic we use for lots of things. (Get an empty jar and let the kids get a marble or two for all the good things they do during the day. When the jar is full they get some kind of treat like a new book, or breakfast at a restaurant or something). I "pay" two marbles to each kid if they get ready on time without my nagging them. That's a little extra motivator for them.
My daughter is in kindergarten. At the beginning, I used short TV program as a motivator. I found an old cartoon program available online, which contains many 5-6 minute long episodes. I let my daughter watch an episodes or two after she got herself ready for school and if there was still time left before heading out. Now that the TV serious had been watched over and over, she is tired of it. She uses the little time before school to do her favorate activity - drawing pictures. There was still time that she was sluggish. In that case, I simply remind her about the time. I let her been late once and she didn't enjoy that experience. Now she tries to avoid being late.
I think all parents struggle with this one because it is not natural for a child to rise at such early hours. I'm truly waiting for the day they say school is from 10-5 M-F. The body needs sleep and it knows better that any of us when to rise out of that sleep. The only thing I would suggest is get on a fixed routine. Have her go to bed at 8 PM and rise earlier. One thing you can do is have breakfast ready. The sheer thought of a good breakfast on the table may encourage her. My mom used to put smilies on my pancakes every morning with a ton of fruit! Turning on a TV, radio, and a child's alarm clock has worked well for us in the past. In fact we have an old Fisher Price alarm clock that has a rooster in the back ground. That's right! A rooster! There is something to a rooster crowing that makes you want to get up. Also, do not give a lot of water at night to the child as this may make her rise to go to the bathroom a lot during the night hours and cause loss of sleep.
Many responders had excellent positive strategies. I know that being given the responsibility for taking care of our pets was helpful as it gave our children an extra reason to get up without a fuss. Of course, they were given a minor allowance for doing their chores, which included helping with the pets and this added to their incentive.
Hope this helps!
Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist