Is your child "slow" in getting ready for school? Is the school van sounding their horn every day, outside your door? Are you always rushing out with your child leaving a half-eaten breakfast or unlaced shoes or forgotten notebooks? Here are some tips that can help.
1. Make your morning a routine
Sit down with your child and create a list of activities that have to be done to get ready in the morning. Allocate some time for each of these and make a timetable about the sequence in which they are done and the time allocated for each. For example, one could be
- Brush, Rinse and Gargle: 5 minutes
- Toilet: 10 minutes
- Bath: 10 minutes
- Getting dressed: 10 minutes
- Eating breakfast, drinking milk/juice: 15 minutes
- Putting on shoes, getting bag and lunch: 5 minutes
- Walking out to the stop for school van: 5 minutes
- Bonus time: 10 minutes
- Total: 70 minutes
Hang this chart in the child's room and in the bathroom, which is where the child starts their day. Initially, keep checking on the child every few minutes and asking them what activity they are on. If your child cannot read time, you can draw the hour-hands of the clock next to each activity so they know what the cutoff time is.
Don't make any changes to these activities. Follow them consistently every day.
If some activity takes longer time repeatedly, work with your child and adjust the time. Use the total time to decide when to set the wakeup alarm.
2. Breakfast should not be from a menu
Make sure your child understands that breakfast is not from a menu. Don't let them pick their breakfast at the last minute like - "I want masala dosa today". Standardize breakfast so that each day a fixed item is served (idli on Monday, toast on Tuesday, paranthas on Wednesday, child's choice from 3 cereal types on Thursday etc.,). This will help the child come to breakfast with the right expectations and eliminate any arguments about what they want versus what you can make.
3. Get some activities done the night before
Make sure your child does some school-readiness activities the night before. For example, before going to bed, you and your child can do some of the following:
- Child - Get's bag ready for school and keeps it near the door
- Child - Gets socks and keeps them near shoes. Polishes shoes if need be.
- Child - Selects clothes if school does not use uniform or sets out uniform
- Parent and child - Agree on breakfast for the morning and on lunch
- Parent - Verifies that child has finished all of the above
4. Make a bed time and stick to it
Lack of a good night's rest will slow down any child. Allow no excuses to extend bedtime on a school night.
If you find that your child needs to wake up earlier in the mornings to get things done, move up the bedtime earlier. To facilitate an earlier bedtime, start cutting down any time spent on non-essential activities. If you allow your child 1 hour of TV a day, reduce it to compensate for an earlier bed time and tell them that if they want their TV time back, they should learn to get ready faster in the mornings. They will get the message fast.
5. Have a bonus time in the mornings
When creating the morning routine, add some extra time and call it "bonus time". This can give the child some extra time if she is being slow but you can convert it to your advantage by telling the child that if they get ready on time, you will do something with them in the "bonus time". It could be telling them a story, or letting them look through the sports section of the paper etc., They will learn that if they get ready on time, then there is a little incentive for them in the extra time left.
6. Start the routines early - don't wait till the child is too old
Routines for getting ready in the morning can be set at a very young age. So start children in the habit of following a routine early. Don't think that you have to let them become older before they can follow routines. The earlier you start, the better it is for you and your child.
Do tell us what other techniques you use to get your child ready on time.