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 you can encourage your child to make mental pictures during everyday tasks. The imagery-language connection is key to good thinking and communication.
Imagine a better bedtime
If your kids are like most, they spent summer evenings watching television or movies, or playing video games, later than they should. 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; 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, “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 that you discuss and visualize 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?”
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 gear for extra curricular activities— can eliminate a lot of the “morning madness.”
Tip: Have your kids 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!”
Imagine a morning schedule
It might seem like a child’s morning responsibilities are so simple, that they could not possibly require a schedule. 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 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 having the schedule 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 they have to do.
We hope these tips have you imagining better school-day mornings! If you notice your child is struggling to get organized 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. To learn more about concept imagery, contact your local learning center: 800-300-1818.