You are probably already working with a morning routine. I created one last year, when my girls were in Pre-K. This year, though, I’ve asked my daughters to get involved in creating a written Morning Schedule. As my girls are getting older, I am seeing that they want to express their emerging sense of independence and sometimes resist following my routine. (The pre- pre- pre- teen years have begun!)

Though it would be much easier for me to just do it myself, I decided to use the big transition to kindergarten as an opportunity to start teaching my girls a “big girl” skill of time-management. Getting them involved in the process will have the added benefit of reducing resistance to mommy’s rules. This is the schedule they helped to create (See right.)

Making a Morning Schedule:

  1. Brainstorm Ideas – Talk about the tasks we do each day to get ready for school, and wrote them down on sticky-notes. I made it fun and silly by suggesting ridiculous tasks. Since they can’t read, I drew stick figure illustrations. If your child likes acting, you could also pretend to be a little kid and your child can be the parent and give you advice on what to do.
  2. Talk about the Value of Time – Group tasks into roughly 15 – 30 minute chunks (e.g. wash face, brush teeth, potty, could fit into a 15 minute chunk). Many children (and even teens) struggle to learn basic time management skills because they don’t fully understand the value of time. (e.g. how long is a minute, five-minutes, an hour? What does it feel like? What types of activities fit into these time amounts?) 
  3. Create a Master Schedule – Create a big grid to put our tasks into and explain how a schedule works and how much time you have. I used an old manila folder cut in half glued to an over-sized piece of construction paper. (See our version above. If you have another good version please email me and I’ll upload it as well.)
  4. Add/rearrange tasks – Decide how to order the tasks. Tell your child “time management” means “fitting the tasks you have to do into the time you have”. With your child, take the sticky notes and fit them into the schedule you created. Have fun by making some silly suggestions that obviously don’t work. For example, ask “Do you think you should brush your teeth, and then eat breakfast? Or the other way around?”. Ask  your child what he or she thinks makes the most sense and what his or her preferences are for the order of tasks (obviously within reason.) Explain how much time you think activities will realistically take and agree to keep working on the schedule until you get it right.
  5. Decorate – Let your child decorate the schedule with stickers and glitter glue, or go online to find super-heroes or favorite characters to print out and glue on the calendar. Post your Morning Schedule in a prominent place  you can point to when you in the morning. It is also helpful if it is near a clock. That way, you can reinforce your child’s learning of both how to read time and also their awareness of the value of time (as mentioned above.)
  6. Celebrate! – If you’ve already got a reward system, find a way to fit your Morning Schedule into it. If you don’t already have something in place, I find stickers or stamps are a great reward unto themselves. Also, never underestimate the power of hugs, high-five and fist-bashes!

Some other ideas to consider:

  • Timers are a good strategy for slow pokes. Play with a timer and make a game out of doing various tasks. You can ask: “How long does it take to get dressed? brush our teeth? How long does a favorite episode of your show last?”
  • Make a music tape that goes along with some of your morning activities. Great songs to include are upbeat, like “At the Hop
    ” or “Move It Move It”
    or those with lyrics that count down (for example:  We like the version of “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” on the Animal Playground CD
    ). Let them know that they should be getting shoes on by a certain song.
  • If your child likes to be independent, let them choose the order of activities in a section of your schedule each day. For example: brushing teeth, going potty, washing face and brushing hair could all go in the category of “grooming”. You child could do “grooming” at the same time each day, but pick a different order for each activity every time.

Have fun, with these ideas, and tailor this project to your family. What are your ideas? What works for you? If you come up with a twist or adaptation you’d like to share, please post a comment, or email me a picture and I’ll post it to the blog!

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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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K-readiness, Learning at Home, Social Emotional

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