By Lynette Goss
Walnut Farm Curriculum Specialist
Mornings can be a challenge! All parents have been there- from refusals to get out of bed to your child taking forever to find their shoes. Some days it is just not possible to get out the door on time. Here are a few tips to help you and your child pleasantly leave your house on time.
Remember the saying, “Early to bed, early to rise”? This is ideal for both you and your child. Routine is very important to children, but research also shows that you sticking to the same sleeping pattern is healthy for you as well. Patience comes best when we feel well-rested!
A famous Montessori quote says: “Never do for a child what they can do for themselves.” Helping your child “do for themselves” often takes a lot of patience and preparation on your part in the beginning years. As they grow, you will see your (and their) hard work pay off with a very independent child.
Set your alarm so that you have a little time for yourself and time to prepare for your child in the morning. Wake your children at a time when they have plenty of time to help themselves get ready for school. Having five minutes to spare allows time to look in your child’s eyes and visit, or read a story before going to school.
Look at the weather prediction together the night before, and help your child remember to have their bag and the appropriate weather gear next to the door or in another consistent spot the night before. Some children happily pick out their clothes for the next day the night before; others change their mind when they awaken. If your child has trouble choosing, know what your child likes and give them a couple of choices. “Do you want to wear this sweater or this long sleeved shirt today?” Only have clothes that are acceptable for the current weather available. If it becomes a power struggle, put the acceptable clothes in their bag. They can change at school if needed. Remember that Montessori teachers rejoice inside when we see children who obviously dressed themselves. Don’t worry; their fashion sense will most likely improve over time!
Invite your child to help with breakfast preparation, and include breakfast clean up as a part of the morning routine. At school, children are accustomed to preparing their own snack and following through with clean up. Food always tastes better to children when they prepare it, and everybody loves a clean sink!
Once your child reaches the elementary years, they should be able to get themselves completely ready on time and remember all that they will need for the day. Occasional reminders are fine, but natural consequences speak louder than words. If their hands are cold at recess because they forgot their gloves, or they have to ask the teacher for paper because they left their notebook at home, they are learning how to be responsible people. Resist rescuing them so that they learn through experience.
Your child’s teacher is a great resource. They have probably seen or had personal experience with your struggles. Reach out to them. They are always happy to listen and share ideas for pleasant, well-rested mornings.