The school year is in full swing and we are all settling back into a groove. Getting out the door can be one of the most hectic parts of the day. Here are some expert tips to help your mornings run more smoothly:
Create a “Loading Dock”
Set up a designated spot in your house to store the backpack, lunchbox, water bottle, etc. This cuts down on time spent hunting for items, and also prompts your child to grab everything he needs in the morning. Help your child unpack his bag at the end of each day and place everything back in the “Loading Dock” so it is ready to go for tomorrow.
Prep the Night Before
Set yourselves up for success by prepping anything you can the night before. Pack lunch, fill the water bottle, sign forms, layout clothes…these tasks may only take a minute or two but those minutes are precious in the morning! Involve your child in the prep process so that he starts to get into the habit of thinking ahead.
Eliminate Unnecessary Steps
For kids with processing or executive functioning deficits, multiple steps can be overwhelming! Take a closer look at your morning routine, and see if there are any steps that you can cut out. Perhaps taking a shower the night before, or making beds when you get home from school.
Use a Visual Schedule
If your child is ready to start taking on more responsibility with the morning routine, a visual schedule can be a great way to support independence! Start with 3-4 tasks that you know your child can do by himself. (i.e. getting dressed, putting on shoes, zipping up the backpack, etc). Create a visual schedule with photos to show the sequence of steps. As your child masters the sequence, you can continue to add tasks to the schedule.
Work towards Independence!
When you are rushing, it is sometimes so much easier to do things for a child because it is just plain faster. However, in the long run, mornings will run more smoothly if your child is doing more for himself! Put in the effort now to help him master things like putting on shoes, zipping up a jacket, brushing teeth, etc.
These are all things that your Speech-Language Pathologist and/or Occupational Therapist can incorporate into your weekly therapy sessions. Talk with your therapist about ways to support your morning shuffle. We are here to help!
-Elizabeth Clark McKenzie, MS, CCC-SLP