Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bad Morning

Well, the new school year has officially started at home. This morning was the first morning of having problems getting Ian ready to get out the door and off to school on time. This has been a recurring problem for the last three years, from when he started kindergarten. It reappears on and off all year, every year, and I still haven't figured out how to solve this problem once and for all.

During three years of bad mornings and bad feelings and bad behavior, I've come up with several modifications to our morning routine to help make our morning go smoothly. I have ensured that Ian has at least 20 minutes to eat breakfast, at least 20 minutes to get dressed, and at least 10 minutes to brush teeth and get shoes on. I also get out his clothes (he wears a uniform) to help move him along. I also will come upstairs after 10 or so minutes and casually check on him to make sure he's moving along. I will often give a reminder that he needs to get moving in a nice tone of voice if he's being poky.

Inevitably, after several good days, we have a morning like we did this morning. Despite plenty of time and at least three friendly reminders (I learned a long time ago that I didn't want to yell on a school morning because everyone leaves the house in a bad mood), the mood disintegrated quickly as I told him he was in trouble for not getting ready. Tempers flared and Ian mouthed off, causing TV to be revoked for the day, possible longer.

What really irks me is that I still haven't figured out a way to handle this problem. I hate getting myself and Ian all upset about getting ready to go to school in the morning. I feel bad for handling the situation poorly, and Ian is just mad - not a good way to start the day.

I really wrestle with how to handle this. Ian is very motivated by charts and rewards. But, I hate the idea of rewarding him for something as mundane and necessary as simply getting dress in a timely fashion each morning. I mean, it's getting ready for school, for goodness sake. However, part of me says, if using a chart and reward system makes the mornings go well, then that is exactly what I should be doing.

Then, the fact that Emma is now also getting ready for school and could probably get up 20 minutes before it is time to go out the door and still be ready with at least five minutes to spare adds a new dilemma for me. Should Ian be rewarded, but not Emma? Is that fair to Emma?

I remember from my teaching classes in college that a teacher can't be "fair" to every student in their class, at least not from an equal time/ equal effort for all students perspective. Some kids simply need more time and attention, for whatever reason. And as a teacher, I was told that being fair is giving to each student what they needed, not giving equal time to each child. That meant some kids took proportionately more of my time, effort, and patience than others. Just a fact of classroom life.

I guess being a parent isn't a whole lot different in that respect. But it's a lot harder.


Anonymous said...

Hi Heather,
Just a can us a kitchen timer to hlp ian see how much time he has for morning prep. many paretns use this trick and they seem to have results. The back to school blues hit us all at different tiems!
Keeping your cool iss tough when they are not working within our "program." many years in Kindergarten (as the teacher mind you!) and it always is new....Good luck!
Margaret (The favorite cousin)

Anonymous said...

OPPSS...forgot to check spelling.....but I think you get the idea.....I love spell check, I am a hoorible typer!!!! Margaret