According to Facebook lots of kiddos started school today, but my crew starts in two weeks. We’re trying to soak up the last bits of summer here, but I’m also gradually preparing the kids to return to our school routine. Last year when they started kindergarten it was imperative for us to have a solid routine that would help get them to school before the 7:40 am tardy bell. George leaves for work at 6:30 am so it is my responsibility to make sure everyone is ready and at school on time. This is a tall order, but we managed with a few tricks.
We start by prepping as much as we can the night before:
- check the weather then choose clothes and lay them out
- pack lunches and store in the fridge
- put folders, books, etc. into backpacks
- set the table for breakfast
Getting to bed on time is another critical part of the morning routine. We try very hard for the kids to get at least 10 hours of sleep (see American Academy of Pediatrics Sleep Guidelines. Sleep is important not only for helping everyone wake up chipper in the morning, but also for optimum learning and behavior throughout the day. When the kids aren’t in bed on time, they go crazy-hyper-nuts and have a hard time falling asleep. The next day, they are cranky, short fused and difficult, which I do not want teachers to experience.
As part of our sleep routine, we start dimming lights and shutting curtains shortly after dinner. We also transition to quieter activities such as coloring, puzzles, or reading. There is no screen time two hours prior to bedtime because screens stimulate them and discourage sleep. We wrap up with pajamas, brushing teeth, and then reading a bedtime story before lights are out. Long summer days put a monkey wrench in our early bedtime routine, but we are working on getting in back in order for school.
Even with a good night’s rest, the girls are slow to rise in the morning, especially when it’s still dark outside. We started using a sunrise alarm clock“>sunrise alarm clock, which simulates the sunrise in the girls’ room. A soft light shines thirty minutes before the alarm is set to sound and it gradually brightens. Pachelbel’s Cannon in D begins to play when it’s time to wake. This helped tremendously! I started setting their alarm clock a few weeks back to get them used to waking up early and getting ready.
To foster independence with getting ready (and to free up precious time for myself), we use a simple visual checklist. It identifies things I expect for the kids to do mostly by themselves. I make sure everyone is awake and then prompt the kids to “check the list”. As they complete tasks, they move a color coded magnetic push pin into the box showing it’s done. If I notice someone is dawdling, I remind them, “check the list”. As an incentive for kids to get ready quickly, if there is spare time, they can use their Kindle to read or play a game until we leave.
Once everyone is ready, we have the challenge of loading the car and buckling all of the five point harnesses. At the start of kindergarten, the kids could not fully buckle or unbuckle their seats, which meant extra steps for me. OYE! As the year progressed, they began practicing buckling and unbuckling their seats and by the end they could manage them. Hooray! If you have a new kindergartener, I highly recommend practicing this handy skill.
Do you have any hacks for getting kids to school on time?