How to get your child to carry out daily routines: 3 tips for creating independence for your child

Mornings can be tough! One of the most common frustrations from parents is getting their kids ready and out the door on time.

3 Tips for making morning routines run more smoothly:

1. Make a visual schedule or checklists for the morning routine
A visual schedule is a list of photos or pictures that outline what needs to be done each morning. It helps to create structure and predictability so that the expectation is clear of what needs to be done each morning. Many kids respond well to ticking off tasks as they go and having a few minutes set aside at the end to play a motivating activity if they get all of their jobs completed in time.

Pictured (below left) is an example of visuals that can be freely downloaded from a fantastic website called Visual Aids For Learning

Pictured (below right) is an example of a ‘First and Then’ chart.  This can useful for younger children who may need more regular reinforcement to complete non-preferred activities.

visual aids for learningfirst and then chart

2. Use timers
For many children, the concept of time and how long things take, is very hard to grasp. Timers can provide a clear visual indication of how long they have until it is time to pack away.  They can make it easier for kids to stay on task and also help to make transitions smoother.

Pictured below are two examples of timers that we regularly use with kids. Bomb Timer App is free to download.  Time Timers come in a range of sizes and can be purchased from a number of online stores, however we purchase ours from Sue Larkey’s website.


3. Create homemade stories or comic strips
Homemade books are a great tool for teaching kids about new routines and outlining what is expected of them.  It is always helpful to involve your child in the process.  Get them to draw pictures of the sequence, work together to Google and select pictures online or get them to pose for photos of them completing each step in the routine.

Super Duper Story Maker is a free app where kids can draw, customise or upload photos to generate their own story.  They can even record the audio for each step in the routine.

Homemade Books to Help Kids Cope is a wonderful resource that provides step-by-step examples or how simple stories can be used for a whole range of different situations.

kate headshot

I hope that these tips assist in making your mornings run more smoothly!

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.

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