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How to Get Children to School: Organized and On Time
On Your Marks, Get Set....
R-I-N-G-G-G-!!!! The new school year has just rung in. It’s another year of lunches, car pooling, field trips, forms, homework, tests and agendas. How, oh how, do we get the children out the door on time and organized with all that they require for the day? I have some suggestions, all which I enforce in our home. I have 6 school aged children and the grades attended are from junior kindergarten to grade 9. Being organized and on time is an art form in itself!
It may sound easy and even appear easy. Perhaps, in a smaller house hold, it is easier. However, when there are three or more children, the morning rush can become hectic, unmanageable and a nightmare (or rather, morningmare!). To help alleviate some of the hectic morning rush, the following suggestions might help:
Buy some books on:
1. Routine. Follow a daily routine. Anything that must happen on a daily basis can be incorporated into the routine. These include times for: waking up, scheduled showers, meals, leaving for school, homework, computer, chores, television and bedtime.
Repetitive tasks can also be added into the daily routine. Choose and layout the next day’s clothing at bedtime to avoid the “what shall I wear?” dilemma in the morning. This also prevents “I don’t have anything to wear” so I can’t go to school issue.
Another repetitive task is to prepare the lunches for the next day after the evening’s dinner. If you are sending a hot lunch, then have the hot lunch ready to be reheated in the morning. This alleviates any time consuming cooking in the morning. Have sandwiches made, cut up fruit in containers, dessert and healthy snacks all made and put into the lunch bags. The lunch bags can then be stored in the fridge which will extend the coolness factor during the school hours.
After breakfast is finished and the children are ready to prepare to go to school, they should gather all their forms and place them into the front pocket of their agenda. Their agenda should then go into their back pack. Their homework should be gathered and placed into their backpack too. In addition to their responsibility, they must pick up their lunch bag from a designated spot (counter in the kitchen or from a shelf) and put it into their back pack.
They are to dress and be ready for a visual inspection by you before exiting. Ultimately, it is still your responsibility to ensure that they are well dressed, clean and have their homework, lunches, forms and agenda in their back pack.
The routine should be scheduled according to the clock. On some days, it will run like clockwork, other days, it may run slower by a few minutes. Other days, it will run faster. In general, make sure that they leave at the exact time or earlier, but never later.
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2. Organize. Have a place for each and every thing. This is critical to keeping chaos at bay. It also sets a visual for children to follow. They can see the results that they are or are not producing. Each family will organize their home as they see fit, but I will use our home as an example.
I’ll begin in the kitchen. We don’t have a very large kitchen. In fact, cupboard space is extremely limited. Despite this, I have dedicated a bank of cupboards that is strictly for “school items”. There are shelves for: utensils, lunch bags, thermoses, sealable containers, juice boxes, water bottles, snacks and sealable plastic bags. Each item is labelled with the child’s name so that filling the lunch bag is much easier (and I never miss a child’s snack or juice).
Our study has been converted to the study room. In this room, there are two shelves that are dedicated to hold each child’s agenda and any school forms or notices. Each child is allotted two baskets (one for the previously listed items, and the second for library books, homework and tests). Each basket is labelled with the child’s name.
Our mud room is much smaller than we like. However, we work with the space that we have. We have a large metal shelving unit that is on rubber wheels. There are four shelves which allow two children per shelf. The very top shelf is reserved for fund raising boxes and so on. Again, each shelf is labelled with the child’s name. Each child is allotted two baskets plus a space to hang his/her back pack. Basket one is for outdoor accessories like hats and mitts while basket two is for dry shoes/slippers.
As we all enter and leave through this room, I have three large white erase boards that have one month per board. The first board is last month, the second is the present month and the third is the next month. These boards are extremely useful to mark meetings, trips, games, appointments, sleep overs, and so on. I have gone to the extent to allot one different marker color per person in order to keep things straight.
Well, I think that is about as far as I want to go with organization. I believe that you have the idea. Be creative and think of your traffic flow through the house. Begin at one of the path (your child’s bedroom) and visualize how the day unfolds according to the daily routine. Take notes on how and where your child would travel until arriving at the end of the path (the door that he/she leaves from to go to school).
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3. Be flexible on non-school nights. Even thought the day is structured and rules are in place, it is necessary to allow children some leniency on off school nights. As adults, we like to have a little more free time on the weekends, so naturally, they would too. It is important to ensure that children have adequate time for a proper sleep. On school nights, from Sunday through Thursday, we have a set time for bed, and allow the children to stay up later on Friday and Saturday nights. With early bedtimes on school nights, we ensure that they have a good night’s rest, rise at the appropriate hour and are refreshed for a new day.
Take action. Involve your children. Enforce and practice the routines. The key is to have your children independently action as much of the routine as possible. You will see the morning rush slow down as chaos becomes manageable. Your children will be happier too. They will be organized, refreshed and not rushed. This is the way to start a morning!