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How to ease your 1st grader back into a morning routine

Transitioning from sleeping in and starting off slow in the morning to waking up early and rushing out of the house presents a challenge for any child when the first day of school rolls around. And that situation happens frequently with any given “normal” year. However, we’re not only moving from summer break, but also into the first reopening of most schools in just over a year due to Covid-19. Consequently, for adults and children alike, adapting to a new school morning routine might be more difficult. Therefore, we have some tips that will help you to set up a new school morning routine for your first grader.

Establish a school morning routine one to three weeks before the first day

Starting a transitional phase late in the summer break will take the “shock” out of the first week of school. Preparing during the last month of summer, or even just a week before your first-grader goes back to school creates a calmer environment that enables them to adapt to the new routine without rebelling. Plus, this gives you a chance to see what works and what doesn’t in relation to specific procedures such as sitting down to breakfast as opposed to grabbing a quick bite for the ride to school.

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Also, by starting well ahead of time, you’ll get more opportunities to remind your child about the start of the school year, to get answers to questions about the school’s policy regarding Covid, and to ease your child’s anxiety about in-person learning. To make the return to school more interesting, you can also remind your first grader that he or she will see the same friends again or will be able to finally meet them face-to-face if virtual learning was the main option during this past year.

Big sister reading to little brother

Determine an ideal bedtime—and stay with it

Along with practicing the school morning routine, you can set up the school night procedures. So even on the weekends, you might consider getting your child into the practice of going to bed early. Some measures that you can implement include:

  • switching off the television at a certain time every evening
  • serving dinner a bit earlier than “summer hours”
  • bathing the evening before
  • reading a bedtime story

Settling down at the same time every evening can help your first grader regain sleep patterns that might have been thrown off during the pandemic when virtual learning took place. And with the school year’s “new normal” on the horizon, any form of a routine gives a sense of security for the little ones.

Prepare school items, lunches, and clothing the night before

Allowing your child to help you prepare their backpack and/or lunch for the following day will show them a valuable life skill, and, of course, that it’s time to go back to school, and that everything will be back to normal, so to speak.

In addition to the school supplies and lunches, you can also employ your first grader’s help in picking out clothes for the next day. At this age, your child might want more independence and control over important decisions—like which t-shirt to wear. So again, you’re giving them the chance to learn how to make choices, which is another important life skill. Most importantly, nightly preparation will help everyone avoid the stressful rush in the morning.

little girl meditating

Try some fun rituals to start the day

Adding a short, simple activity makes the school morning routine enjoyable and eliminates the stress, especially if these daytime doses of positivity involve the whole family. Here are some suggestions to try out:

  • Use a favorite song on your phone as an alarm when you open your child’s door
  • Prepare a simple, favorite breakfast; make it a “grab-n-go” if you have to run out the door immediately
  • Engage your first-grader in a quick song, chant, dance, or some other fast, fun activity right before you leave
  • Recite or make up a positive (quick) affirmation or devotional to start out the day

When your child sees how mornings can be an uplifting time of the day, rather than a difficult and exhausting one, they will eventually pick up the skill of self-motivation when an obligation (like going to school) is met with a positive attitude. Plus, your child will also learn the importance of punctuality when you stay with a consistent, well-prepared routine.

So, school morning routines have returned, but with these ideas for making mornings run smoothly, you’ll be able to get out the door on time and with lots of smiles. You might also remember that the sooner you start adapting to the school year schedule, the easier it will be for your first-grader to adjust to waking up, getting ready, and heading back to class.

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