I ran into a neighbor last Sunday who is gearing up for his child’s first day of school … (no not public, but hey us parents gotta stick together!) I was reminded how much our family has appreciated our morning, after school and bedtime checklists. Getting kids back on schedule from summer break is always a welcome change. Nonetheless, it can be a difficult transition.

I posted this a while ago (so, if you’ve been following me, YES, these are familiar.) That said, I’m going to be going back and re-posting resources and topics that help make the beginning of school a bit easier! Also, my girls are not “big kids” in the 4th grade, so some of this seems old hat. For any parents new to getting their kids organized/ready for pre-K or K, let me know if you have a problem or question I might be able to help out with, and I’ll post it on my blog!



Kids always do better on a schedule. Having twins makes it imperative. (When you have two toddlers in a home, it’s basically the only way to get a shower!) That said, our family thrives on routines.

When I learned that Michele Obama taught her girls to wake up and get ready for school when they were in kindergarten, I had to try it with my girls, who were already well into second grade. I have to say, it was much easier than you’d think. Playing off of their interest in being “big kids”, I presented a series of checklists on index cards (based on the repetitive list of tasks I would always repeat ad nauseum) and told them THEY were in charge of getting it done.

It has worked out great! Instead I feeling like a constant nag, I was able to say, “What does the checklist say?” They felt great pride in showing me how independent they could be, and I loved the shift from army sergeant to “coach”.

I introduced the lists shown here during their second grade year, but I don’t see why I couldn’t have done it sooner. The major change I would have made in implementing these lists at an earlier age would be to use pictures instead of words (e.g. a picture if a toothbrush for “Brush teeth”). I’d also probably simplify any tasks that require parental help.

I have been wanting to share this idea for a while and finally got organized and created these printables. The girls simply love the fun colors and even though they’ve been doing this for a while now, couldn’t wait to give them a try right away. Feel free to print and cut out these cards directly from this site, or use them for inspiration in creating your own on 5 x 7 index cards.

Parent tip: When introducing these lists for the first time, set everyone up for success with a motivator. For example: When the girls ask if they can watch some TV or get iPad time during week nights, I say, “Sure, have you done your bedtime checklist?” I works like a charm!

How do you help your kids learn independence and own their daily routines? Post your ideas in the comments below!

Free Printables:

Click on the links below to download the free printable checklists shown above in Pdf.

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About alimcollins

Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.

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Learning at Home, Social Emotional

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