Morning Routine Before School

Updated on December 09, 2008
E.O. asks from Appleton, WI
16 answers

I am struggling to get my 6yr old son ready for school in the morning. I've tried a lot of things and nothing seems to work. He will get up a hour and a half before he needs to leave for school and 5 minutes before he needs to walk out the door he is sometimes still in his pajamas. I am getting tired of my own nagging at him to brush his teeth, wash his face and get dressed. Any suggestions on how to get him motivated?

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answers from Madison on

My son is also very slow in the morning. One day when it was almost time to go out to the bus, I told him to put on his shoes and get his coat and backpack. He said "but Mom, I'm still in my pajamas!" I said, "yes you are and it is time to go catch the bus so I guess that is what you are wearing to school". You have never seen a boy put clothes on so fast! Now he is still slow, he may go to school without brushing his teeth now and then, but at least he is always up and dressed on time.



answers from Appleton on

Start setting a timer. So many minutes for this and so many for that. Or just one lump sum of time when the timer goes off we are leaving and you go to school as you are. Pack his clothes or shoes in his backpack and off to school. The point is no more nagging just tell him when the timer goes off we leave until then you get dressed, eat, brush teeth ect. and don't say any more. Have a talk with his teacher and explain that he may show up one day in his jammies or without breakfast and why. Believe me the teacher has heard it all before. He won't want to be embaressed in front of his classmates and he will get moving.

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answers from Rochester on

My daughter, bless her heart, is slow at EVERYTHING! This is a girl that takes over 30 minutes to eat a little bowl of cereal, then complains that it's soggy!
Our lawyer's secretary actually suggested a quick & easy breakfast, like pop tarts, something they can take on the bus if they need to.
So we've been doing easier breakfasts, I know it's not the healthiest, but atleast she's having something.
Some nights she goes to bed already dressed for the next day (instead of putting on PJ's she puts on her school clothes). I don't know how long we can do this, but I'm hoping as she gets older she'll move a little faster.
They're only minor changes but they've made a huge impact on our morning routine!
I hope it starts going better for you soon! (oh & we don't do TV until after she's ready to go, it's too much of a distraction. & we have an alarm that goes off to let her know it's time for coat, hat boots, etc because the bus is coming).



answers from Sioux City on

My son was the same way. What I did that worked for us was I printed out pictures of a tooth brush, clothes, sink and I put what he needed to do at the top. Example.. Brush your teeth, Put your clothes on, Wash you face. Then I laminated them and put magnets on the back. So every morning he has to go to the frig and when he is done with one thing he needs to move the magnet from one side of the frig to another. It works great and keeps them motivated in the morning.
Good Luck



answers from Lincoln on

You could try a visual schedule. Draw out each step that you want him to do even if you can't draw stick people work. Then when he is not doing what is on his 'schedule' you can refer him back to his schedule by saying "check your schedule" it helps to take the focus from mom nagging to your schedule says so.. I use this with my 6 yr. old son for morning routine and it really helps. I draw out each step: shirt, pants, socks, shoes, brush teeth, coat, backpack, ect.... If you need more help with this I am willing to respond again.


answers from Milwaukee on

my son was the same way when he was is kindergarten. i tolked to his teacher said to let him go to school in his jammies. my son never had to but it was close!!! or maybe set an egg timer so he knows he has so much time to get dresses. and set it again so he knows he has so much time to eat. and so forth. break up the time to smaller bits.



answers from Minneapolis on

Make a routine schedule and post it up - ours looks like this:

Eat breakfst - 8:15
Get dressed - 8:30
Brush teeth and hair - 8:40
Go out for bus (5 min early) 8:50

Then it will be clear what he needs to do and when he needs to do each thing to be ready on time.



answers from Minneapolis on

My 5 yo is a slow riser but an hur and a half is plenty for him to get ready. My son likes to have time to read with me or play a game in the morning so I use that as a motivator for him to get dressed and eat. I still help him with the routine at times. For example, he likes to play a game where I swing his clothes around one at a time and he tries to grab them. I also warn him that I am sitting down to eat my breakfast so if he wants help getting his he had best let me know right away. I try to sit down and eat at the same time as him, he eats better that way and is less likely to jump up and play with toys before he is finished. Once he is done with his preparation for school, we can play a game together or he can watch a little TV with the time remaining.

Another really good system is Accountable Kids . We have used it with great success. It really takes the nagging out of my life. It is much more holistic than a simple chore chart (which never caught my son's interest).



answers from Appleton on

I read this to get ideas myself. My kids can be slow... especially my son. Every morning is so rushed. My son is so slow to wake up. Sometimes he comes downstairs and falls back to sleep on the couch!

I agree with Cassandra's TV idea. In my home, if the kids haven't listened to my requests (guidance) I say "if you aren't listening and can't get dressed & ready... the TV is OFF". That usually moves them - fast. If not, the TV does get shut off.

Good luck and I'll be watching for more ideas :)



answers from Des Moines on

One thing that has worked for my kids in the past is a chart that lists the morning tasks in order (either by words or pictures) and they check off the tasks as they do them-get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, eat breakfast, etc. At the end of the week, we have a little meeting and we review the chart and talk about how the week went. If everything was acceptable, they get a small reward. We have used this off and on throughout the years-usually after summer and winter breaks. Sometimes they forget about the chart all together and do the tasks anyway-the chart helps to start good habits.

Good luck.

K. L.



answers from Omaha on

Try the Web site It seemed to help us on many levels.
Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I have NEVER been a morning person, so I feel your son's pain!

Six is still young and I would expect that he would need guidance in the morning. I would set up time markers during the 90 minutes that your son is awake. For example, let's say he wakes at 5:30 and needs to be out the door at 7:00. Then by 6:00 he needs to be washed up and dressed, at 6:30 he's eating breakfast, at 6:50 he's putting his coat on. You could set an egg timer or an alarm to go off at each specified time. If it's something you want to do, you could reward him (sticker chart or whatever) for meeting his time goals each day.

Lastly, I'm wondering if the t.v. is on? This is easy for me to say because I hate t.v., but leave it OFF in the morning.



answers from Wausau on

I haven't read the other responses yet so maybe I'm saying the same thing, but make a chart with pictures and the words on it that he can check off each monrning. Getting dressed, eatign breakfast, brushing teeth, combing hair, back pack ready, ... whatever else.
Once my daughter is ready in the mornings, she can watch some TV if there is time. We've gotten into a pretty good routine (less than an hour) and it works out most days.
good luck



answers from Davenport on

I did not read all of the responses that you have gotten so far, so this may be repetitious, but I'll share what has helped tremendously with my kids. I had the same problems with them not being ready when it was time to leave and I felt like I was telling them the most obvious things over and over.

First, I do not let them turn on the tv until after they get dressed. That gets them going so they can watch a cartoon while they eat breakfast. 10-15 minutes before it is time to leave if they are not ready, the tv gets shut off again.

The other thing I have done is make a "chore chart" that includes every detail of getting ready in the morning. (get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, put on shoes, etc.) They are excited about checking off the items on the list and getting rewarded if they do everything without being reminded, so that has helped me alot.
I also made a section on the charts for their evening routine (homework, chores, bath, teeth, getting to bed on time...)



answers from Rapid City on

When I was growing up, we always had to be dressed and ready (backpacks ready, shoes on, etc.) before we could eat breakfast. I was always hungry when I woke up, so this rule worked for me!

Another idea would be to create a "morning story" where you type up a short story and add clip art telling the morning routine. Something like: "In the morning I will wake up. I will go to the bathroom. I will make my bed. I will get dressed. I will come downstairs and sit at the table to eat breakfast. After breakfast, I will put on my coat and shoe and go to school."

My third thought is to use the same idea, but make it hands-on for your child in the morning, like a flip chart. So, each time he completes a task, he turns the card and sees what to do next. This way, you just say - go look at your book - and don't have to nag or remind about every little thing.

One of the most important things for all of us in getting ready in the morning starts the night before when you lay out clothes, get lunch packed and backpack ready (homework/library books/teacher notes), so that there is less to worry about in the morning. Also, avoid having the tv on, so there isn't that distraction, and your son can focus on preparing for school.

Good luck!



answers from Rapid City on

E. - try enticing him with a reward for getting dressed so quickly ... you'll make his favorite breakfast for him before he leaves for a fun day at school. Have the 2 of you tried brushing your teeth together? Making it more of a challenge or game or just a special time that the 2 of you have each morning? Perhaps a special cuddling time and a quick story book once he is all ready will get him moving to have that special time with mom before leaving her loving arms for a day at school.

My children are now adults w/children of their own and some of the things I did to them, they are doing with their own children to get them motivated in the mornings.

Trust me ... nagging, hollering and pleading don't do anything for a little one's motivation but rewards and special time with mom sure do make a big difference!

Good Luck!

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