== Getting Ready for School the Easy Way ==

Mind of Her Own

Until recently my daughter was always late for school. We finally realized one morning that it wasn't her fault. In our struggle to rush her to the bus stop her 1st day of school we failed to recognize how confusing the morning must have been for her.

Establish a Routine

Starting on their 1st day of school (or during pre-school) list for your child ALL the steps needed to be successful. Your list might include make your bed, eat breakfast, change from pj's to school clothes, brush teeth, pack backpack, kiss Mom, and the all-famous GO POTTY. This is a new adventure for them. Help reduce their fear by establishing a routine that will make their mornings less stressful.

Rehearse the Routine

Teaching is successful when THEY can repeat it, not you shouting orders. Your firing off commands will confuse them. The question to ask them in the morning is "what do you have left on your list?" Do not ask a battery of "have you" questions. Have you brushed your teeth? Have you kissed Mom? Have you gone potty? If you do so, they will never take ownership for their responsibilities and will start the day watching TV and waiting for you to tell them what to do next. Don't start them thinking life is about being a follower, a puppet resentfully dragged by the strings of others through life's endeavors. Teach them to take control of their destiny early in life. You are teaching them a process and time management. Until they know the answer to what is next, your family will continue to have stressful mornings.

Tell Other Parents

Let your children joke with others about "their list". In the process of doing so, they will solidify in their minds what is expected and will build confidence. While at the bus stop, let you child have the stage. Let them do the talking. They thirst for recognition, so congratulate them with a "good job getting ready this morning". This will help to reinforce their behavior and acknowledge their accomplishment.

Reward Behavior, Not Results

Be patient. Results will take time. Focus initially on their behavior and effort as they learn "the routine". Motivate behavior and the results will follow.

As stated in the beginning, it was not my daughter's fault she was late for school. It was our fault. We had forgotten the first rule of successful coaching "lecture not - but ask wisely".

Other Suggestions

Do not yell. Kids will immediately "tone you out" when presented with volume. Though you may assume you are getting through t them, they are only saying "yes Dad" to bring the volume down. Work WITH them rather than battle with them in the mornings. Make the process routine, but fun. If you found this technique helpful, please feel free to email a copy of the article to a neighbor or local friend. When someone complains of Little Johnny taking forever getting ready for school, share with them this technique as it has worked wonders for us.