Establishing a School Morning Routine

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by Sara Naylor, Director of LIH Olivia's Place Learning Centers

by Sara Naylor, Director of LIH Olivia’s Place Learning Centers

Many families find the morning routine stressful. Do you find yourself running around the house looking for swimming hats, a favorite pencil, a water bottle, and last night’s homework when the clock is ticking closer and closer to the arrival of the school bus? Being persistently late can affect a child’s ability to settle into school routines and have a knock on effect on attainment. With the help of a good morning routine, a stressful morning atmosphere can be avoided helping your child to arrive at school content, on time, and ready to learn.


Being well prepared for the next day will ensure that the morning routine is stress free. Ensuring that everything is well prepared will enable you to focus on the important morning tasks of washing, dressing, and eating.

Encourage your child to develop responsibility for their possessions and time management. Check the school timetable together early in the evening. Together, you can make a checklist of what you need to prepare the night before. This list might include:

  • School uniform, including shoes, socks, etc.
  • Packed lunches – prepare all food so it’s ready to go
  • Check that all homework has been completed
  • Sign any letters or paperwork for the school
  • Pack the school bag
  • P.E. kit, musical instruments, or other special equipment needed on particular days

Do not allow the preparation to disrupt the bedtime routine though! Encourage your child to prepare for the next day before going out to play or watching television for example.


Think about how much time it normally takes to get everyone ready …. and then add another thirty minutes. This will allow the morning routine to have a leisurely pace. That way if things are going well there will still be plenty of time to go over that tricky spelling word, review pick up arrangements, have a cuddle, change a jumper that is covered in toothpaste…….


It is essential that children have something to eat and drink before going to school. If they have not eaten since the evening before they will not be able to function well in class.

Try giving your child a couple of options in the mornings. There will be some things that are going to be out of the question on a school morning but a choice of cereal or flavored yogurt will help your child feel that they have some control and will encourage them to look forward to breakfast. Lay the table in the evening to save time and try to model good habits by sitting down to eat with your child.

If your child is very young it’s usually a good idea to have breakfast before getting washed and dressed to avoid last-minute disasters needing a change of clothes.


Many parents of younger children have battles over getting dressed for school. Children are often easily distracted by other far more interesting activities or simply claim that they are too tired! Encourage them to lay out their clothes or uniform the previous evening so that everything is in the correct place and decisions are made. Resist the temptation to get too involved with helping your child get dressed. If you take over, and always tie shoes or do up buttons, your child is likely to struggle to do it themselves after P.E. and could end up feeling distressed. Getting up earlier on a school day, leaving more time for the child to dress, will quickly help them become more independent. Don’t worry if they don’t do it perfectly at first – they’ll gradually get better with practice.


Once being more organized in the morning has become a habit, you’ll be amazed to find that you may even have some time before you need to leave the house! This benefits everyone in the house and gets the day off to the right start. Now, if something unexpected occurs, such as a lost book or P.E. kit, there will be more time to find it. And whether you send children to the bus or leave for school together, everyone’s in a better mood.

Make time to talk and listen to your child each day to check how things are going. Just giving attention in this way can help your child feel supported and more confident. However, resist the temptation to ask too many questions, especially when a child first gets home from school and is likely to be tired, hungry, and short-tempered from coping with new experiences and the focus of learning.