2013 Susan Tracy McDaniel, M.Ed., Parenting Coach, Learning Together Education
Children in our society, in our families, children are often rushed and ordered around,
especially in the mornings. Parents tell me this is the time they are most likely to
become, shall we say, unpleasant with their children.
It is also important to consider how mornings are going, because the tone is set for the
day. We would like children to arrive at school feeling happy and peaceful, not stressed.
Walking in late can be disruptive to child and class, so make an effort to set up an
efficient morning routine and avoid running late.
A good morning starts the night before. Everything that can be done to ease the morning
should be. Some ideas:
- Tidying up
- Child packs school bag and/or lunch and places them by the door
- Check that shoes or boots, coat, snow pants, TWO mittens, hat, etc. are ready. Provide low coat hooks and manageable storage near the door for these.
- Lay out clothing for tomorrow
- Use the toilet
- Snack and/or drink (if bedwetting is not a problem)
- Brush teeth
- Pleasant stories (no monsters or disasters, and no television in the evening)
Begin the evening routine with the necessities, followed by some pleasant, quiet time
together, perhaps reading stories, saying prayers, tucking in, expressing your love for
your child. This could all be done by candlelight.
Your child should go to bed at approximately the same time each evening to set a sleep
habit. Most young children need a bedtime of 7:30 or 8 p.m. Allow for ten hours of
sleep, or more.
Plan an evening routine for yourself also. Prepare for the morning. Plan eight hours of
sleep, or whatever you know you need to feel rested. This helps you to be pleasant in the
Get up a half-hour before your children so you have time to get yourself ready, uninterrupted. Then, greet them with a smile! This sets the tone for a good day.
Children’s morning routine may include the following:
- They get up on time, using an alarm.
- Make the bed. Simplify bedding, perhaps using just a duvet.
- Use the bathroom.
- Get dressed in the clothing chosen the night before. Provide clothing that they
- can put on independently.
- Brush hair
When they finish these steps, THEN they may join you for a lovely breakfast.
You have spent the last little while preparing this breakfast, INSTEAD OF
nagging your children. They will know what needs to be done once the routine is
If they are ready early, then reward them with time spent in an activity they enjoy.
Perhaps they have 20 minutes to play outside before they have to get in the car.
(Note: Getting outdoors before school aids concentration).
What’s your routine now? Searching for shoes, laundry, the school bag, keys…
Easier mornings start THE NIGHT BEFORE. Do everything you can ahead of time.
For both morning and night, observe how long it takes your child to get ready
INDEPENDENTLY, with no unneeded help from you. Allow this much time, plus some
I find that children respond better to nonverbal cues than verbal reminders. Instead of
repeating “Time to go!” numerous times, I just get my jacket and keys, and slowly head
for the door, about 10 minutes early. If a child is not ready and it is time to go, I put them
in the car as is (unless it is dangerously cold). They might get dressed quickly in the
car (they must be buckled before we depart), or at school. This could be too
embarrassing for some children, but it can be a very effective logical consequence for
Once your mornings are running smoothly, you may find you have some extra time.
Enjoy that time together reading a book, playing a game, playing outside, listening to
music, or having a conversation… something healthy that your child especially enjoys.
No television before school it has a sedentary effect on children and adults alike.
Please check sleep requirements by age.
for learning daily routines
for parenting support