Wednesday 3 October 2018

Supporting independence in the morning routine

Mornings in our home are a sort of regimented chaos.  Three kids who all require some form of supervision, two schools to get to and all their gear. Although my kids may seem old enough to be doing a lot of the morning routine themselves, they have a few challenges

Anthony is 10 with autism and ADHD and although he goes to a mainstream school, he needs a lot more support than his peers to focus on and do things.  David is seven, and he attends a specialist autism unit.  His communication is extremely limited which can make doing anything challenging. Jane is five years old - she's just entered Year 1.

In the past year I've learned more and more although the responsibility of getting all my kids out of the house and to school lies with me - I don't have to do everything.  And the best way of doing this is to help each of my kids be more independent in their morning routine, helping each where they need it most.  Doing this means thinking about ways to help them develop their own skills.  Here's some of the ideas we have used.


This forms the basis of many people's lives and it's no different for our kids.  Routines tell us what we are supposed to do when, and what we are to do next without meaning we have to think about it. Routines can be supported verbally or with images.

For example, when Anthony started getting himself dressed we used a picture flow chart to show him what order to put his clothes on.  Several years later and he still puts his clothes on the same order but does it by himself and without the chart.  If something goes wrong he can still have to undress and start again, but he can do it.  That's one child I don't have to dress in the morning.

Anthony's morning 'routine' is now extended to (almost) everything he has to do.  He has no down time until he has completed all the routine and this means he has everything done. It takes time for new things to embed - collecting his school bag on the way out has been somewhat challenging!  But overall with some mid-routine prompting, he can get most things done in the morning.

Supportive clothing and gear

Learning to get dressed independently takes lots of skills, many of which need practice and can benefit from support or a little bit of extra thinking. Short sleeved shirts are easier to put on than long sleeved ones as there are no cuffs to deal with.  Elasticated waist bands eliminate the need for catches and buttons.  The top button of shirts can be held in place with a velcro coin dot as this one is particularly difficult to do up.

Shoes can be difficult too.  Jane often gets them on the wrong way around and we've found an easier way to help her is to choose shoes that are obviously different on each side.  We used the shoes from Term shown above, that have a butterfly motif just on the outside of the shoe making it easier for her to get them on herself along with the diagonal velcro strap.

Small zips on school bags and clothes can be fiddly but a simple keyring on the zip tab, that the kids can put their finger through to pull makes the job so much easier.

Small parts of larger jobs

Where things still need to be helped by an adult I try and break the jobs down into smaller parts that the kids can do themselves.  Anthony still can't pour the milk into his cereal - but he can get his own spoon out of the cutlery drawer.  He can't reliably pack his bag but he can zip it up and take it to the car.

David can't get his clothes out, but if I lay them out on the floor he can use a routine to get his pants and shorts on and will then pick up his t-shirt and jumper and bring them to me to get me to help him finish.  I can also put his socks and shoes on, but then leave the velcro strap or him to do himself.

All these little bits help the kids to develop their own independence and although I';m going to have to help them for a long time, it'll be good for us all in the long-run - not just on the daily grind to school.

We were sent a pair of Term shoes for purposes of review having identified them as useful for our kids. I'm happy to include them in my post above. 


  1. My little girl know she can pick from a drawer for her tops and a drawer for her bottoms on school days. She goes to private school so she had to wear certain outfits. Some days she may wear red and pink but hey...she dressed herself. #coolmumclub

  2. this is a really good post. A lot of parents dont allow independence and do everything for their kids. I think giving your child independence and the skills they need in life is the best gift you can give.

  3. Well I have to be honest I do everything for my daughter in the mornings when getting her ready for school but she is 4 and only started school last month. Right now I'm just really appreciative that she is going into the building every day. But it is something to think about for the future. I can see how you could easily get into the habit of doing everything for them all the time which is not good. They do need to learn these skills. #CoolMumClub

  4. Teaching them is so worth it isn't it. N is 7 and he's a nightmare for continuing a routine (or not in his case). So far this week he's done well but that#s because I wrote everything down for each morning

  5. Such a commitment, but brilliant to see you are working to help your children be as independent as possible. A fascinating insight into your lives. #TriumphantTales

  6. Looks like you've got a great routine in place to help your kids be as independent as possible. Great post xx

  7. Sounds like you have a great routine going on! #TriumphantTales

  8. I've always believed a good routine is key and you have confirmed this! Thanks for joining in with #TriumphantTales.

  9. I found it helpful to have as much done the night before as possible. I lay out three outfits so that she has a choice in what she is going to wear but there are far less times when she looks completely ridiculous #blogginggoodtime


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