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Secrets for getting kids off to school on time       Send a link to a friend

Syndicated column from The Parent Institute

[OCT. 7, 2005]  Q: As the new school year begins, I am concerned about getting my 9-year-old daughter up and moving in the morning. She is not a morning person. She has a hard time waking up. She dawdles over getting dressed and eating breakfast. Then she takes forever getting out the door with her lunch, homework and school supplies. School has barely started, and she has already missed the bus four times. I have younger children at home, and this means I have to drop everything and pile everyone into the car to get her to school on time. We're always running late in the morning. What can I do?

A: Some kids do find it easier to get out of bed in the morning. Others tend to be night owls. But since your daughter won't be attending night school anytime soon, you are going to have to find a way to make mornings easier -- for everyone.

The secret to surviving mornings is to start the night before. Here's how:

  • Make your daughter's bedtime earlier. Children her age need at least eight or nine hours of sleep. Decide when she needs to go to bed to get that amount of sleep. Set a time. Announce it. Then enforce it.

  • Lay out tomorrow's school clothes before bedtime.

  • Fill lunch boxes or bags at night and leave them in the fridge.

  • Make sure your daughter has packed her backpack with completed homework, library books and everything she'll need for school.

  • Get your daughter her own alarm clock. Give her the responsibility of getting up in the morning in plenty of time to get dressed and ready for school.

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These tips can help make mornings more successful:

  • Allow time for a good breakfast. There will be those days when nothing seems to go right. You can help by keeping a stash of nutritious foods on hand that can be eaten in a hurry.

  • Use a kitchen timer to do the countdown for you. Set the timer to ring when it's time for breakfast, when breakfast must be over and when it's time to move on to the next task. Most kids enjoy playing "beat the clock."

  • Don't simply say, "Hurry up!" Instead, state the specific task she needs to complete next: "Time to brush your teeth." "Time to tie your shoes."

Finally, don't be too quick to bail her out. Unless someday, when she's an adult, you plan to write a note to her boss when she's late or drive her briefcase to work for her, you might as well let your daughter learn the consequences of her actions now. It's better to learn them in elementary school than later in high school or on the job.

[The Parent Institute]

For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question, go to All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail.

Copyright 2005, The Parent Institute.

"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.

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