Ten tips for getting the kids up and out for school

publication date: Apr 25, 2007

Most  mums - and dads - dread the morning chaos of children who suddenly decide to start their homework two minutes before they’re due to depart or refuse to leave the house without undergoing a complete change of clothes or a new hairstyle.

  • Always check with children if they have any homework when they arrive home. If they have a history of conveniently “forgetting” it, check their school bags and homework diaries.
  • Also ask for any notes that may have been sent home and read them. You may need to send in a contribution for a school trip or sign a consent form.
  • If the children take packed lunches to school, get them to empty their boxes as soon as they arrive home. Agree a week’s menu, then you can buy in advance and you won’t have to ask what they want each day.
  • Pin up a weekly time-table - colour-coded for each child - and mark in swimming and PE days and any after-school activities. That way you shouldn’t be dashing around looking for swimming costumes or recorders just before leaving.
  • If your child wears a school uniform, make sure everything is ready the night before. For children who wear their own clothes, agree which garments can be worn to school and get the child to choose the night before.
  •  Encourage children to clean their shoes/trainers after wearing, ready for the next day.
  • If the kids won’t get up in the morning - suggest they need to be in bed and asleep earlier. If this veiled threat doesn’t work, set bedtimes half an hour earlier even if it means missing a favourite TV programme. They’ll soon see you mean business.
  • Give the children an alarm clock and make sure it’s switched on for a sensible time. Deduct an amount from their pocket money each time they’re late. For younger children give stars or stickers for punctuality.
  • For early risers who just don’t get ready for school in time - check what they are doing and offer compromises and a different sequence. For instance you might say no TV before breakfast or before they are washed and dressed. For bookworms and those who get involved in creative play, suggest a time limit - perhaps using a timer which will ring to remind them - which will allow you to leave the house on schedule.  
  •  A final resort for parents whose kids resist any other strategies is to threaten to leave the house on time whatever state of dress they are in and whether or not they have all their bags and kit ready. Of course you have to be prepared to carry this through - and it’s obviously easier if you go by car. A friend of mine did this and her son was left pulling his socks and shoes on and combing his hair in the back seat - and the action had a long-term effect.