Summertime schedules are often quite different than school year schedules, and that’s ok- after all, it is vacation time! School days, however, will require early wake up times and set meal times, so establishing a consistent morning routine early is very important. Nobody likes to be unprepared or rushed, so start easing preschoolers into their new routine in the weeks and days leading up to the first day of preschool. This will help get their little bodies used to the altered eating and sleeping schedules and will help the whole family have a smoother morning. If you don’t ease into it, you may end up with one very cranky kid on the first day of preschool.
Children whose families follow a daily routine may be healthier, better behaved, and even perform better in school. Finding the best morning routine for your family can take some experimentation, but it will give your preschooler a strong foundation and the confidence they need for a successful day ahead.
Sit down, and figure out what your family needs and make a routine that works for you. Make a list of all the things that need to get done. For example:
- Brushing teeth
- Combing hair
- Washing face
- Getting dressed
- Eating Breakfast
- Putting shoes on
- Grab backpack
- Head out the door
The best way to prepare preschoolers for a big change is to give them lots of time to process by starting routines in the days or weeks before school begins. Sleep is so crucial for helping management of emotions, so parents also need to ensure their kids are going to bed at a regular hour every evening. The key is consistency. The sooner your preschooler knows what to expect, the sooner you’ll see the stress-induced morning meltdowns start to taper off.
Once you have picked a morning routine for kids, go through all of the steps with them talking about each step as you go along your morning. This will help you recognize any glitches or perhaps the need to re-order some of the steps. Throughout the morning routine, encourage your child to take ownership of these tasks and try not to do everything for them. It might be quicker in the short term to put their pants on for them but may contribute to a power struggle that you will pay for in time and frustration down the road.
Create a picture chart showing each of your child’s morning tasks in chronological order. Since most preschoolers cannot read, seeing a visual representation of what is coming next can help them understand the routine without consulting you every step of the way.
This is the perfect age to begin Montessori Practical Life Care of Self: self dressing and grooming. Set up a Montessori dressing corner for your child to practice independence and make it easy for them to dress themselves! Be creative with what you may already have on hand:
- a basket for shoes and socks
- a low bench for sitting on while dressing
- a small clothing rack or hooks for hanging the day’s outfit
- a low shelf for a towel, hair brush and other personal hygiene items
- mirror at child’s height
Try to minimize the number of responsibilities everyone has in the morning. Is there something you are squeezing into your morning routine that could be done ahead of time? Consider taking care of these tasks the night before:
- Picking out clothes
- Bath or shower
- Making breakfast or lunches
- getting the backpacks ready
Along with preparing lunches and outfits the night before, the proper amount of rest will help your child have a smoother start in the morning. Though every child is different, preschoolers typically need 10-13 hours of sleep per night.
Exactly how much sleep does your child need?
Click here for a helpful detailed chart of Childhood Sleep Guidelines:
Just like children, adults benefit from a regular routine. Consider creating a morning ritual that helps you start your day off on the right foot and focus on the morning ahead before your kids even wake up. Make time to relax with a cup of coffee before your busy day begins. By setting your alarm for 20 – 30 minutes before your kids wake up and getting yourself ready first, you’ll be setting the whole family up for a successful morning.
Often when kids can sense that you are rushed and frantic they will slow down and resist. If you feel yourself becoming frazzled, get down on the same level with your child and explain to them why you need their help in that moment and give them a task to take ownership of. Kids tend to mirror your actions and tone, so try to really focus on your demeanor and use a calm voice. One trick that we have found especially helpful is to almost whisper when you find yourself getting frustrated. This will help you remember to use a calm voice rather than raising your voice or yelling.
Your morning routine may be dictated by the clock, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be enjoyable for your child. Kids love music, so choosing their favorite songs to listen to and sing along with can create a positive association in their minds with going to preschool. Music can also serve as an auditory cue for your children about their progress – for example, the end of a certain song can signal that it’s time to put their shoes on.
It’s a good idea not to stray too much from the routine on the weekends. While still making sure that your kids are getting enough sleep at night and maintaining their usual bedtime, you can enjoy the more relaxed pace in the mornings by having story time before doing the usual routine like brushing teeth and brushing hair. You can even start a special weekend tradition like making pancakes or a family walk outside.
We hope that with our tips your mornings are now much more smooth and organized, and set the pace for a beautiful day ahead!
To learn more about our child care center in Eden Prairie and programs, contact us at 952-777-3606. We look forward to meeting you!
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