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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Helpful Habit: Good Morning Board

With the start of the school year, we have waved good-bye to our more relaxed summertime schedule.  One helpful habit to help us adjust to a more rigid schedule has always been to establish clear morning time routines.

With seven people living in a very small home, certain habits and routines are not only helpful, but mandatory.  I am a firm believer that children find safety and success in having clear boundaries. Our morning time goes much more smoothly with clearly defined expectations.  Enter our Good Morning Board.

Good Morning Board-morning time routines @tuhomeschool


Although we start every school year with some organizational routine or another, this year it came in the form of a simple chart.  I wrote each of my "must be done before school starts" expectations on a piece of cardstock with easily-identifiable pictures for my littlest ones.  A few nights before the first day of school during a discussion at dinner, the Hubs and I whipped out the chart and laid out our Good Morning Goals.  

As I had hoped, with the dawn of a new school year came the successful initiation of the new routine. Although my morning time expectations had not really evolved much from last spring, summer, as always, had a way of making us lazy.  For the past few days, however, the children have gotten up and have accomplished their tasks without having to be reminded or reprimanded.  

Our morning routine is as follows:
  • Watch 2 shows on PBS (I know some moms prefer not to have the TV on before school time or at all, but I have always opted for this route as it allows me to have a peaceful start to preparing breakfast and gives me a chance to complete my own personal devotions with minimal interruptions.  And since they only watch one other show in the evening, I don't mind affording them Curious George.  In other words, it works for us.)
  • Clean your room and make your bed.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Get dressed.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Read your Bible/do your devotions.

What makes a chart...or any similar method...so successful is that the motivation is intrinsic.  I do not have to nag them to get dressed, clean their room, etc.  I simply point to the chart.  I have devised it in such a way that the "reward" of obeying is natural.  You do not eat breakfast until your room is clean. Food is a NATURAL motivator...especially for boys.  ("If a man will not work, he shall not eat." 2 Thess. 3:10)  School starts at 10:00, but if you can get your morning routine finished before 9:30, you will have extra time to play before school.  If you do not get it all accomplished before 9:30, you may not watch 2 shows the following morning.  NATURALLY!  No nagging needed.

Admittedly, no plan this side of Heaven is perfect.  I am sure, given a few weeks, even this seemingly "foolproof" operation will lose its luster.  But, by establishing a helpful morning time habit, I am laying the groundwork for self-discipline which, in the end, will spare them from an entirely DIFFERENT kind of discipline in the future.

Updated 2015-2016

It's been four years since I made that first Good Morning board. Every new board has been just a wee bit different, but all have helped us start the morning with success SANS nagging.

This year, due to the growing maturity of my children and the evolving work schedule of The Hubs, our morning routine will look like this...
  • Read your Bible.
  • Clean your room.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Get dressed.
  • Brush your hair and teeth.
  • Play time until 8:30.
The "Eat your breakfast" becomes intrinsic motivation for the first half of the list and the potential play time propels them to complete the rest. 

For more information on our school day schedule, be sure to check out a Day in the Life of The Unlikely Homeschool.

21 comments:

  1. Great idea (as always)! :) We also start out many mornings with PBS, but it's not an every day thing (maybe it should be!). They know which shows they are allowed to watch and which they aren't. I also find it to be a good way to have a peaceful start to the morning for mommy. :)

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    1. My kids are all really good about that too. It helps when they know which shows are OK and which ones are not...especially for when they are at a friend's house or with a sitter. (Oh, who am I kidding...we have FIVE kids...we can't afford a sitter. : )

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    2. We love PBS! It's one of the few, if not the only, channel which I feel comfortable with the shows and the commercials.

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  2. Sounds like your off to a great start!!

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  3. I've been trying to find something like this for a morning routine to remind my kids before they leave their rooms - I guess I shall just make one like you! :D

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  4. I LOVE the good morning board/routine. Our mornings are quite hectic with four little ones and I hardly ever start school at a consistent time each morning. I am going to try this! Thanks!

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  5. I wonder how our Great-Grandmothers started their days? We don't usually have a TV accessible (bring it out for special occasions) so our mornings with 10 little hands and 10 little feet are not always peaceful, but we do have a routine and I, by God's grace, am learning to be at peace even in the midst of chaos... I'm a slow learner but this is a lesson I am so thankful to be learning!
    We do practice no breakfast until bedrooms are clean though! Today my girls didn't have breakfast until 11:30am -I refused to nag and they refused to be diligent... lesson learned -tonight they decided to clean their room before bed! :-)

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  6. this is genius! great example of self-discipline, even though my boys are younger, i know it will instill something so good in them! i found your awesome blog through pinerest!

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  7. Replies
    1. It was actually just a piece of heavy scrapbooking card stock that had a blank white space in the middle. I just wrote the words and drew the pictures.

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  8. I made a similar chart for my daughter's full day. She is an advanced 3 1/2 YO. She loves to check her schedule and if there is resistance we just "go check the schedule" and that usually solves it. She doesn't get to watch a show at night "unless there is time" after she gets ready for bed. Likewise in the morning, but we haven't had problems in the morning... yet! Many kids really respond to routine, even if it is simple.

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  9. I love this, Jamie. "It works for us" says it all: we have to find what routine works for each of our families. What a sweet post to let us all get a glimpse of your day. :)

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  10. I like the idea not too complicated and simple.
    When do you do chores ?

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    1. Other than cleaning their rooms, most of their chores get done right after lunch and right after school. It just works better for us this way instead of trying to cram all of it in at the start of the morning.

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  11. How does this plan work for your littles? I have three kids ages 4, 2, and 6 months. My oldest is able to get herself ready independently, though it is usually chalk-full of drama! My two year old can't yet. I am trying to work out a routine for us so that our day isn't chaotic or aimless :)

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    1. My youngest is three and can dress himself. But, before he was able to, he told me when he was to the point of needing to be dressed and I would pause and dress him and brush his teeth. If for whatever reason I was not able to, I'd ask one of my bigger kids to dress him.

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  12. I'm just wondering if you wake up your kids so that the timing works or do you let your kids wake up naturally? My 4 kids all wake up at very different times and it can throw our morning time off as they aren't all done by a specific time. Thanks.

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  13. Typically, they wake up on their own. But I do have two that have a tendency to sleep in. If they haven't woken up yet, I try and wake them up an hour before I our school day to give them enough time to do their morning routine.

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