• Tue, Feb 5 2013

Grade Expectations: Your Crazy Morning Routine Is Hurting Your Kid’s Grades

school breakfastGrade Expectations is a weekly look at education from a parent’s perspective. We’ll talk special needs, gifted & talented, and everything in between.

We all know that our morning routine is important. We want to start the day off on the right foot, and all that jazz. It’s easy to sit around and discuss the fact that everyone should be cooking a big, hardy breakfast, waking their kids up early so that they have time to really get going, and maybe even walk or bike to school instead of hopping in the car.

I think in the back of our minds, all of us realize that this is the best thing to do for our kids. (In case you didn’t, here are some studies to prove the point. Morning exercise and a healthy breakfast are super helpful for kids’ academic achievement.) Our minds aren’t the problem. It’s the reality of the situation that’s a little more difficult.

Should we get our kids up a little early to give them time to wake up and mentally prepare for school? Sure. Is it easy to get a groggy child -or adult- out of bed before it’s absolutely necessary? Not at all.

Would it be awesome to wake up every day and prepare a nutritious, balanced breakfast for your family to sit down and eat together? Is it a hundred times more likely that your kid will just grab a granola bar or a banana on their way out of the door? Definitely. What’s more, let’s all be honest and acknowledge that the sugary cereal sold by the ton in this country isn’t being eaten by magical elves. People are buying it and they’re thinking, “It’s better than nothing.”

And wouldn’t it be fantastic to strap on a helmet and bike with your kids to school so that they can get their blood pumping and heart rate up at the beginning of their day? Hell yes! I’m pumped just thinking about it! But the reality is that the windchill is negative 10 outside and biking to my daughter’s school each morning would take more than an hour, time I don’t normally have in my workday. Not to mention we would go down some pretty dangerous roads that don’t have sidewalks or bike paths.

We have these perfect morning routines in our head. But more often than not, they’re completely unrealistic and unattainable, so we toss them to the side and rush through our mornings without any plan at all, merely hoping everyone will get where they need to go on time and wearing matching socks.

Instead of trying to be perfect, maybe parents need to focus on setting goals they can actually reach. Instead of saying that you’re going to make amazing homemade breakfasts everyday, try for once or twice a week. If that’s not a possibility, just try to have everyone sit down and eat breakfast at the table, even if it is just a granola bar and banana.

If biking or walking to school is simply unrealistic because of weather or location, don’t just give up and call the whole thing off. The whole point is just to get kids a little activity before they head into the classroom. Have a five minute morning stretch time with your little one. Do a little sunrise yoga before you get dressed for the day. Park a couple blocks away and walk the last few into school. Just find a small way to get your kids some form of exercise.

If we stop talking about these perfect, idyllic mornings where everyone wakes up at six a.m. with smiles on their faces and songs in their hearts, maybe we can actually figure out some ways to make mornings work better for our families.

Mornings are important. They set the tone for your day. They can impact your kid’s ability to learn. But that doesn’t mean that a great morning routine is an all or nothing endeavor. Parents just need to do what they can and remember that tomorrow is always another chance to get it right.

(Photo: Lana K/Shutterstock)

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