This Executive Function Tip Will Make Mornings Easier This School Year
| by Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed., TPT Teaching and Coaching, 7/7/2021|
While the sweet reality of an in-person fall 2021 for school re-openings is the long-awaited return to normal that we all crave for, it is time to revisit the morning routine. The kids are excited to see their teachers and friends again (maybe a little awkward at first, but still excited!). For some parents, the question remains: How do I get my kid to leave the house on time? We have just the trick for you.
We all have been there. The morning madness can be draining for many families and individuals alike. A child can forget one item that results in mom having to drive to school to give the child the math homework he forgot on the kitchen table or left his baseball uniform on his bed still. While planning ahead to anticipate for a hectic morning come naturally for adults, school-aged children and adolescents may not have this skill down. That's why the launch pad is a miracle for easy mornings. It is a routine that helps your child sets out their materials the night before in a designated location so your family can have a smooth morning out the door. The suggested steps below will deliver easy, breezy mornings moving forward as your child strengthens their executive function skills.
1. Co-write a morning checklist with your student
The launch pad idea works best when you and your child sit down a week before school starts to make a checklist of items your student needs every morning. Give your child the job of the writer and you the facilitator so your student can experience planning something out and writing things down. Then, laminate this checklist with a few blank lines for occasional additional items that your child needs to bring to school and post it in a highly visible place for your student to scan or check off with an erasable marker every morning to avoid forgetfulness.
2. Designate a convenient location together
The beauty of the launch pad is that it takes care of all the usual morning worries. To make that happen, designate a location in your home where ALL the morning items will be stored (backpack, sport uniforms, music instruments, lunchbox and so on). It is like a morning storage corner, so your child does not have to check five different places, which holds everyone up in the morning. This is a great opportunity to walk your student through the critical reasoning behind selecting one location over the other (i.e why the kitchen corner vs. upstairs). Your student will learn how to get something done efficiently and quickly, especially all the thinking that has to go into that in order for your family to enjoy a stress-free morning. Another monumental skill your student will learn is weighing benefits of two equally good options, but only one is best and why. The biggest takeaway for your child is to know how to make good decisions using 360 degree thinking. That is a skill they will need for life!
3. Set it all out the night before
Once a convenient location is chosen through good critical thinking steps, have your student set out all the items on the checklist in a designated location the night before (i.e kitchen table or in a small corner before the front door) so that everything is ready to go in the morning. Oh yes, the physical lunch box can be laid next to the soccer shoes, but the actual sandwich can be in the fridge at night. By morning time, the lunch box will serve as a visual reminder to your child to put the sandwich in there. I would recommend showing your child and keep facilitating the first week. Starting the second week, let the student take over, but observe what are they missing and re-teach those forgotten steps that they have missed until they have gotten it down pat. Also, give the checklist to your child to use as they lay out each item the night before. This will help your child practice early planning, organization, and time management all year long, which is necessary for habituating good executive functions. It will also save you both some precious time and reduce stress in the morning.
The launch pad is a classic, daily exercise to teach your student how to plan ahead and get something done efficiently and swiftly with high accuracy. Whether it is school performance or future career success, this executive skill will surely prepare your student for a great school year and strong executive function development.
Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed.
I am a licensed professional educator, executive function expert, former tenured high school teacher and college instructor with 16 years experience. I am also a student success designer. I enjoy recognizing the missing puzzle in the student's learning and personalizing that solution in a language that is unique to that student. I love the creative challenge of inventing a new language for every child.