Monday, January 20, 2014

Tips for a Great School Day Start

by Mike Nitzel, Principal
Thomas Jefferson Elementary School
Rock Island-Milan (IL) School Dist. 41
Milan, IL

Are mornings a struggle in your house?  Do you find it difficult to get the kids up and get everyone out the door on time?  Here are a few simple tips to help you get your kids—and you!—off to the best possible start to the school day.

1)      Prepare the night before. The start to your day actually begins the night before.  Make sure clothes are laid out, backpacks are packed and lunches are in the fridge and ready to go.  Get the kids to bed at a decent hour and help them get all of the sleep they need.  Here is a quick guide from WebMD regarding how much sleep the kids need:
Age 3-6: 10-12 hours per night
Age 7-12: 10-11 hours per night
Age 12-18: 9-10 hours per night

2)      Set a wake up time so that you’re not rushed.  What sets a better tone for the day, rushing around or being able to take your time and attend to what needs attending to?

3)      Eat breakfast.  It really is the most important meal of the day.  It fills the gas tank for the day.  Whether it’s at home or at school, save time to make sure the kids get a healthy breakfast.  My kids do well with proteins and whole grains.   

4)      Be positive.  No matter what last night brought, start your kids’ day with a hearty and heartfelt “Good morning!” and a smile!  Each new day is a blank canvas.  Treat it that way.  Let your kids know that you are counting on them to be their best at school that day and every day!

5)      Let your kids know that you’re going to think about them during the day.  Whether you tell them directly or leave them a note in their lunchbox or backpack, your kids love knowing that you’re thinking about them during the day.

6)      Ask your kids, “Is there anything I can do before you leave or I drop you off to help you have a great day?” This is a good way to be proactive and to deal with potential problems before they occur. 

7)      Dress appropriately for the weather, especially during cold weather.  I’ve seen some kids “snow” their parents (no pun intended) into letting them leave the winter coat at home.  They say things like, “I’m only going from the car to the front door” or “We’re not going out for recess today.”  Um, what about a fire drill or other emergency that might require them to leave the building?  Ask them to make sure they have a coat.  However, I would not get involved in a protracted war about the issue.  Natural consequences work wonders.  If they have to go outside for any length of time and it’s 20 degrees, they’ll quickly learn to take their coat from then on. 

8)      Dress appropriately for school.  Know your school’s dress code and abide by it.  It’s there for a reason. 

9)      Tell your kids you love them.  Make sure these are the last words your kids hear before you see them again at the end of the day.  It’s also a harsh reality that the last time you see someone could be the last time you ever see someone.  We don’t like to think about that but it’s an unfortunate fact in today’s world.  Make sure that what could be your last words are loving ones.  There’s peace of mind there.

These are just a few things that we have found through trial and error over the years to help us have a decent start to our school days in our house.  I’d be interested in hearing what you think.  Please leave a comment or two and as always, thanks for taking time out of your busy lives to read this.  I genuinely appreciate it! 

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