10 Steps to a Better Morning! Get Your Child Into a School Routine for Both Classroom and Distance Learning

Whether your child is headed to the classroom or staying home for virtual learning, try following these tips for a great morning – right down to packing a backpack the night before.

Why? In addition to keeping everyone organized, routines like these signal “tomorrow is a school day,” no matter where your child’s learning is taking place.

Want more resources? Check out our Back to School Kit!

1. Set your child’s alarm for the same time every day (even on weekends).

Their body will start to signal them to wake up at the same time every day, too – which means they’ll feel more rested. This is every bit as important for remote learning as classroom lessons.

2. Make bedtime the same every day too.

With the above tip, this ensures your child gets enough sleep every night. Is your child having trouble going to sleep? Our behavioral sleep psychologist has solutions.

3. For kids with special needs and younger kids, make a morning routine chart.

Use pictures to help your child see what needs to happen next. For example: Brush teeth, comb hair, wash face, get dressed, eat breakfast, put shoes on (or not), grab backpack, and head out the door – or to their home office.

4. Assign a spot for your child to keep their backpack, jacket and other school items.

The same tactic you use for keeping the house tidy? It also eliminates last-minute searches in the morning. Give your child their own bin, hook, shelf or corner to collect the items they’ll need for school or distance learning: backpack, lunchbox, water bottle, shoes, jacket, etc. Have them check their spot every night before school to make sure everything’s there. (For kids who benefit from visual aids, hang a sign with pictures of each item.)

> Related: Creating Your Child’s Ideal “Home Office” for Distance Learning

5. Have your child pack their school bag the night (or afternoon) before.

Build this into your child’s routine in the time that works best – for example, as a ritual to signal the end of homework time. Once they’ve gathered up books, papers, technology, show-and-tell items, and anything else they’ll need the next day, they can set their backpack in its designated spot, ready to go. Here 10 items to add to their back-to-school supply list this year.

6. Prepare lunch and snacks the night before.

If your child is headed into the classroom, follow any special guidelines from their school when it comes to COVID-19 precautions and other students’ allergy sensitivities. Whether they’ll be in school for the day or doing virtual classes at home, you’ll want lunches that are healthy and fun snacks that your child can help you prepare. Here are ideas to get you started.

7. Lay out outfits the night before.

To help kids mentally gear up for school or remote learning, let them in on the decision-making process. The next morning, when they put on clothes that they helped select, they’ll already feel in control of their day.

8. Set aside time after school – but well before bedtime – to ask what’s on your child’s mind.

Check in on how your child’s day went today, and what’s on their mind for tomorrow. Ask what they’re excited about, or if they’re worried about anything. Not only does this practice help your child work through their feelings – it may help the next morning go more smoothly. Tip: Try to have these talks well before bedtime and in a room other than your child’s bedroom, so any anxious thoughts won’t be associated with the place your child relaxes and sleeps.

> Related: How to Help Your Child Manage Stress

9. In the morning, get yourself ready first.

Surprises happen. Getting your child out the door or into their virtual class on time will be easier if you’ve already completed your own morning routine by the time your child starts theirs. On those days when your child miraculously locates both shoes, doesn’t need help with hair tangles and everything else runs like clockwork? You get a few minutes to relax.

10. Start practicing now – before school starts.

Even if you just have a couple days till school or distance learning starts, build routines into the evening like lunch prep and laying out clothes, start waking up with consistent alarms, and do a couple dress rehearsals to make sure you’ve left everyone enough time in the morning.

After all, mornings set the tone for the whole day. Your extra effort will help your child’s school year get off to a bright start.

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