Perhaps your kids just spent the summer at camp. Or they spent long hours in the pool or at the beach. Maybe lazy days were spent reconnecting with friends and family. Regardless, the back-to-school transition may be a big change for your family. Why not take this opportunity to establish new habits that contribute to a successful year?
Below, explore ideas on how to make school-day mornings better. We’ve included tips for how to encourage your child to make mental pictures during everyday tasks. The imagery-language foundation is key to good thinking and communication.
Imagine a better bedtime
If your kids are like most, they spent their summer evenings watching television or movies, or playing video games, staying up later than they should. School’s physical and mental challenges, paired with an earlier wake-up time, call for most kids needing an earlier bedtime during the year. Transitioning about a week before school begins can be helpful. And, depending on your goal bedtime, about 15 to 30 minutes earlier each night is an easy way to adjust.
Tip: When discussing any new healthy habit, try using language that helps create images. For example, instead of just saying, “It is important to go to bed,” add, “What does it look like when you are in class and you are very tired?”
Tip: Establish a simple bedtime routine to discuss and visualize together. For example, instead of merely saying, “Time to brush your teeth!” ask your child to picture: “What do you see yourself doing after you get your pajamas on?”
Imagine getting organized the night before
Set aside time in the evening to get organized for the next day. Packing lunches the night before and having your kids organize 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 organized—homework assignments in order, permission slips signed, and packing needed gear for extracurricular activities—can eliminate a lot of “morning madness.”
Tip: Have your kids create mental pictures for the next day. Ask questions to stimulate imagery, such as, “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!”
Imagine a morning schedule
It might seem like a child’s morning responsibilities are so simple, that a schedule couldn’t possibly be required. But if you find yourself repeating the same orders morning after morning, why not try something new and set an actual schedule? You can do a quick review of it the night before to ensure that your kids understand what they need to do in the morning. And, have them imagine the order of their morning tasks.
Tip: Some kids will benefit from the schedule being written out and available, along with a clock. For example:
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
Rather than just reiterating the schedule (“Remember to check your backpack!”), use language that creates images: “What room do you see yourself going to after breakfast?” Connecting language and imagery is a great way to make sure your child understands what needs to be done.
We hope these tips have you imagining better school-day mornings! If you notice your child struggling to get organized or to remember the 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 foundation is necessary for comprehension, following oral directions, and higher order thinking skills.
Stronger visualization skills and better comprehension can help improve your child’s school experience:
To learn more about concept imagery, contact your local learning center.
Double Bay (02) 9328 7119 | Chatswood (02) 9410 1006