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Monday, July 22, 2024
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How to Have Successful School Mornings

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Mum putting lunch box with healthy food in backpack

By Mike and Alicia Hernon

If you’re anything like us, your home runs on routines. Bedtimes, meal times and summertime are all on some kind of routine that helps everyone to know what’s happening and when. The same goes for the school year! And nothing seems to matter more than successful school mornings!

We’ve had children in school for a long time, but every year, we struggle to rediscover how to have successful school mornings in our home. And whether your children attend a school or are homeschooled, those habits are absolutely essential in starting out the day peacefully instead of rushed and stressed.

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Studies and educators alike have zeroed in on routines and state of mind as big indicators of success for school-aged children. The more calm and connected the morning routine, the more likely they’ll arrive calm and ready to engage in their work.

So what can we do to prep ourselves (and our kids!) for successful school mornings?

Mornings are Too Late!

The first thing to do is look at your evenings! If you’re starting prep in the morning, you’re starting too late! We’ve found that the best time to start prepping for school is the night before.

Make sure lunches are packed, clothes are set out and backpacks are by the door (or in a designated space) before bedtime. This way, you won’t be rushing around looking for a lost belt or piece of homework. Of course, this kind of thing may still happen occasionally, but the hope is to make it an uncommon occurrence.

This goes to parents too! Hang up your keys instead of throwing them on the counter. Sign all those school documents and put them back in folders before you’re bleary-eyed over your morning coffee. Heck, set up the coffee so all you have to do is press the start button! Whatever will make things simpler in the morning is a good thing to do the night before.

Sydney Catholic Schools Road Safety Education Officer Andrew Sortwell walking his children to school Photo by Kitty Beale

Routine, Routine, Routine

You may have heard that quote from Navy Seal Admiral William McCraven, who said: “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

We’ve never heard anything more accurate! Beginning the day with a successful task done boosts confidence, helping your child start off the day on the right foot.

Your child’s morning routine will set the tone for their day. So find a routine that helps them get physically and mentally ready (eat, get dressed, brush teeth, etc.).

One of Mike’s favorite things to say to the children as they were beginning their day was to ask: “Who’s in charge of having a good day?” The kids knew the answer was that they are! This question was part of their morning routine for a long time because it would help them get into the mindset that they had the ability to change the course of their day by their own actions and attitudes.

So whatever the things are that you know your child needs to have a successful day, include them either the night before or in the morning. And keep it simple! Find small ways to connect with each child and encourage them as they go off to school. Simplicity, connection and calm will go a long way toward a successful day!

“Be consistent where you can, particularly with rules around meal times, screens and bedtime.”

You Need a Routine Too

Finally, this might be a surprise, but your morning routine as a parent matters as much as your child’s in having a successful school morning.

This is often overlooked because we aren’t going to school, but are instead in charge of helping our kids get there successfully. The thing is, your state of mind and preparation for the day will influence the rest of your household.

Getting up even a few minutes before your children need to can make a huge difference!

You’ve probably heard this before (we certainly have!) and might be thinking this might not work for you. That could definitely be the case if you have a newborn or another reason that your sleep might be interrupted.

The point is to make sure you have time to prep for your day BEFORE hopping in that drop-off line.

So maybe you prep breakfast and then take that 15 minutes while the children are eating to pray a morning offering, take a quick shower and get dressed (for real – no pyjamas bottoms!).

Again, the goal is that you do whatever you need to do to feel ready for the day before school begins. Don’t be afraid to try different things until you find a routine that works. And finally, remember that this is the goal and likely won’t happen every day, which is totally okay!

The concern in education circles right now is that in some places young people may not be getting the necessary skills at school to meet current and future workforce and employment demands.

Successful School Mornings are Possible

We all want school mornings to be calm, connected and on time. It’s possible and all about our routines! It might take a few weeks to zero in on what works for our families. But ultimately we’ll find that we have more calm mornings than rushed ones!

So keep at it until you find something that works for you and your children. Remember to include your own self-care in the routine and do as much as you can the night before when there’s less pressure on time.

You’ve got this!

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