5 Tips for Establishing a Morning Routine for Your Elementary Student

As the parent of an elementary student, you know how stressful it can be to get your child ready for school and out the door in the morning. You’re hurrying to pack their lunch, nagging them to finish last night’s homework, fixing a (somewhat) healthy breakfast, and tracking down their missing shoes. Don’t you wish your mornings were more calm and manageable?

Creating a stress-free morning routine is possible. In fact, research shows children thrive on consistency and structure, and with that structure, parents feel like they have a little more control over their day — lowering stress levels and improving their mood.

Here are five tips for how to establish a school morning routine for your child:

  1. Set the alarm for the same time every day. You’ll want to figure out how much time you and your child need in the mornings in order to feel calm and unhurried; consider adding a 10-15 minute buffer to your morning routine for any unexpected events. Every school day, set your alarm for that magic time and enjoy the benefits of a less-hectic morning. 
  2. Create a schedule. Breaking a bigger routine down into smaller steps can be helpful for a child’s comprehension, adherence, and adaptability. Explaining your child’s morning routine in the form of images or a list gives them a clear understanding of what’s expected before heading to school. Review the schedule with your child and post it somewhere where it can be easily referenced, such as on your refrigerator or the bathroom mirror.
  3. Limit decisions. Decision fatigue can be a problem for anyone at any age. Try to make some of your morning decisions the night before — have your child lay out tomorrow’s clothes, pack their lunch for the next day, and have their backpack packed and ready to go.  
  4. Allow time for breakfast. Children who eat breakfast before school tend to focus better and have more energy. It can be tempting to skip breakfast altogether, but the extra time and effort is worth it if it means your child is better able to engage at school. There are lots of recipe ideas online for quick, healthy breakfasts for kids.
  5. Reevaluate and tweak. What works for you and your family this month might not work next month. You might change jobs, road construction could affect your school route, or maybe a scheduled field trip means arriving extra early — whatever the reason, it’s important to be flexible to adapt your routine to your needs. 

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