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Stress-Free School Morning Routine Checklist for Kids 3-5

How To Make School Mornings Easier for You & Your Kid(s)

Everyone, including adults, benefits from an established routine1. Kids 3-5 years old benefit from a routine because the predictability of their daily activities helps them feel more confident and secure. The established expectations also lead to a calmer household.

The first step to making school mornings easier for everyone is to set your own routine. This helps set an example for your kids and gets you organized first. For example, it is a good idea to get up before your kids so you can get dressed — and caffeinated — before you help your kids get ready.

Young kids need more attention in the morning because:

  • they need more help getting ready
  • they have been alone all night.

Giving your child five minutes of your undivided attention before the morning routine can help start the day off right.


A School Morning Routine Checklist

A visual checklist is a helpful tool for kids to learn a new routine. For kids 3-5 years old, use pictures of the tasks they must accomplish. Here is a school morning routine for you to try with your family:

  1. Get out of bed
  2. Use the bathroom
  3. Wash hands and face
  4. Make the bed
  5. Get dressed
  6. Eat breakfast
  7. Brush/style hair
  8. Brush teeth
  9. Put shoes on
  10. Grab backpack and lunch box
  11. Head out the door

Here are some additional tips to help your young kid succeed in their school morning routine:

  • Allow plenty of time: Kids hate to rush and prefer to move at their own pace. Allowing 45 minutes to 1 hour is enough time for most young children to practice being more independent.
  • Use a timer: An age-appropriate timer can help keep young children on task and prevent them from getting distracted. Time is a complex concept for children to grasp!
  • Avoid technology in the mornings: Tablets and TVs are a giant distraction trap for kids and parents alike. Make it out the door on time by avoiding this distraction.
  • Encourage your child to take ownership of routine tasks: On a rushed morning, it is painful to watch a young kid struggling to put on their pants while you hear the seconds ticking away in your head. However, letting children gain independence with their morning routine will spill over into other areas of their lives.

Make School Mornings Even More Stress-Free

Getting enough sleep is one of the foundations of a stress-free morning. While adults are more resilient and can handle some sleep deprivation, lack of sleep makes kids fussy. Make sure your kids get enough sleep by establishing a proper evening routine on school nights.

Practicing a new school morning routine with your young kids on the weekend is a good idea. Go through each step in the routine with your kid and be sure they understand the process. That will set them up for success in the weekdays when getting out the door on time makes or breaks your day! You can even make it fun by adding little prizes along the way — kids go along with things more quickly when they think it is fun.


  1. MacPhee D, Lunkenheimer E, Riggs N. Resilience as Regulation of Developmental and Family Processes. Fam Relat. 2015;64(1):153-175. doi:10.1111/fare.12100.
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