Long gone are those quiet mornings spent watching the news, sipping a cup of tea before work. Nowadays, mornings resemble the sights and sounds of a small, war-torn city in revolt. Constructive morning activities direct your little preschooler while allowing you to maintain order as you get your family ready for work and school. Whether you work away from home or at your home, you want your morning to be sane. Your morning won’t resemble a coffee commercial of latte and bliss, but you’ll be able to start your day without the havoc wreaked by a cranky 4-year-old.
Singing in the morning starts the day on a positive note for kids and grownups alike. Structured songs can help your preschooler stay on task, and rhyming songs promote phonological awareness, which prepares your child for reading. Choose a song or rhyme that walks your preschooler through the actions of getting dressed in the morning. (This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands.) Or a fun rhyme. But a catchy little ditty might get stuck in your head all day. You probably don't want ''Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack, all dressed in black'' in your head while you're at the office or the grocery, but with all this prep -- your preschooler will be ready long before you've brushed your hair and out the door.
2. Morning Routine Charts
A morning routine chart can help your preschooler get ready so that you don't have to plead with your child. Charts are also a fun morning activity for your child while you clean up breakfast or make his lunch. Scholastic magazine recommends listing simple morning responsibilities -- like dressing, putting pajamas away, brushing teeth and hair, bed-making and eating breakfast -- on poster board or card stock and then hang this a highly-visible, shared area of the home. Use pictures or other visual prompts to help pre-readers identify each chore. Your child can place a sticker next to each task as he completes it. You can even create a weekly reward system to treat your child for completing a specific number of tasks. At the preschool level, a little good ol’ fashioned bribery goes a long way. And it works!
3. Special Roles
According to an old English proverb, “idle hands are the devil’s playthings.” Perhaps by “devil,” the speaker meant “bored and tired preschoolers.” If your young one seems to make more work for you in the morning, give him a task that keeps him occupied and contributes to family responsibilities. Give him the morning paper and have him pull coupons, flyers, classifieds or other easily-identifiable newspaper sections. Or, let him fold napkins and put them in the lunchboxes. By giving specific tasks to your little one, you’re keeping his attention focused and giving him an important role while cutting down on things you’d otherwise have to do yourself. (Hey, more ''you'' time!).
If you have a preschooler on your hands, then chances are, you’re getting plenty of morning exercise as you get your family’s day off to a good start. Might feel like you're running around like a chicken without a head -- but it's exercise. Exercise is important for young kids, too, and it's beneficial -- in more ways than one. Channel your tike's never-ending energy with simple exercise routines like stretching or marching in place. Sing to the marching beat for more fun. Dancing to an upbeat morning ditty will help your little one start his day off on a healthy note.