If you are dreading a repeat of last year’s manic mornings, it may be time to change up your family’s routine. Below, explore ways to make school-day mornings better. We’ve included tips for how you can encourage your child to make mental pictures of everyday tasks. The imagery-language connection is key to good thinking and communication. Visualise your family starting the day off right!
Thinking about tomorrow
Set aside time in the evening to get organised for the next day. Packing lunches and having your kids organise their clothes in a tidy pile they can easily grab in the morning can be big time-savers. And working with them to get their backpacks organised—homework assignments in order, permission slips signed, and packing gear for extra curricular activities—can eliminate a lot of the “morning madness.”
To get started, have your child create a mental picture for the next day. Ask questions to stimulate imagery like, “Tomorrow is Tuesday. Where do you see yourself going after school? What do you see yourself wearing [at ballet, tennis, etc]? Let’s pack it!”
The physical and mental challenges of school, paired with an earlier wake-up time, call for most kids needing an earlier bedtime during the year. Transitioning about a week before school starts can be helpful.
When discussing any new healthy habit, try using language that helps create images. For example, instead of just, “It is important to go to bed,” add, “What does it look like when you are in class and you are very tired?”
Establish a simple bedtime routine that you discuss and visualise together. For example, instead of just, “Time to brush your teeth!” ask them to picture, “What do you see yourself doing after you get your pajamas on?”
“We’re (not) going to be late!”
If you find yourself repeating the same orders morning after morning, a simple morning schedule can make a difference. Jot down what works for your child’s age and responsibilities.
6:45 – Wake up & make bed
7:00 – Eat breakfast
7:15 – Get dressed, brush hair & brush teeth
7:30 – Backpack check & out the door
Check for understanding by asking questions that prompt your child to visualise—the key to good comprehension. For example, you can ask questions like, “What do you picture yourself doing after breakfast?” And rather than just repeating the schedule throughout the morning (“Remember to check your backpack!”), use language that creates images: “What will you look like when you are ready to go? What do you see yourself holding?” Connecting language and imagery is a great way to make sure your child understands what they have to do.
“Mom! Where’s my jacket?”
Back to School season is a perfect time to organise the home for a busy school year ahead. The old adage “a place for everything and everything in its place” can help. Have set spots for your child’s school supplies, activity gear (e.g. dance) and outerwear.
That way, your child will always know where to put things away and where to find them in the morning. Adding cleanup time to home arrival and after homework can eliminate some of the stops and starts during crunch time.
Time to celebrate
Consider a reward system to recognise the getting-ready behaviours your family is working on. For times your child is able to get ready in the morning with time to spare, you might choose a special book or short activity to do together. But acknowledging small changes is important, too.
If your child has attended our learning centre, you have experienced our culture of student recognition. Efforts, big and small, are recognised with Magic Stones, Star Cards and lots of high fives. Students are motivated to do more by the positive reinforcement. At home, you can try a sticker chart for completed tasks, or checking off steps of the schedule.
1. Start the night before
2. Establish an earlier bedtime
3. Try a morning schedule
4. Get organised
5. Celebrate success
We hope these tips have you imagining better school-day mornings!
If you notice your child is struggling to get organised or to remember their morning routine, it may be due to a weakness in concept imagery—the ability to create an imaged gestalt (whole) from language. The imagery-language connection is necessary for comprehension, following oral directions, and higher order thinking skills. Find out how these skills can be developed at our learning centre. Get in touch.