Morning Routines and CVI
Are your mornings hectic, rushed, or stressful? Do you feel like you run around trying to do a million things each morning? Do you feel like your classroom “never starts the day on time?” If you answered yes to any of these questions, I suggest adding a morning routine to your day! Morning routines can decrease stress for both the parent/teacher and the child. Additionally, morning routines can help a child get a positive start to their day, which in turn will hopefully help them continue to have a good day. Routines allow mornings to be predictable, engaging, and structured for your child or student. Below we will discuss why these three features are important for all students, but especially those with cortical visual impairment. We will also discuss how they relate to morning routines and CVI.
As I shared above, there are three things that a morning routine should be:
Predictable Morning Routines
For students (or kids at home) having a predictable morning can be a huge factor in starting the morning off on the right foot. Kids like to know what to expect when they wake up or when they get off the bus. Knowing what is coming can help students be successful. Whether this predictable morning is shared on a visual schedule or just as a learned routine, predictable activities that happen every morning give students something to count on and something they can learn to become independent participants in.
Having a morning routine will also help a child visually. If every morning, things are done in a different order or a different room, students will CVI may struggle with this causing them to potentially have a more difficult morning. For example, if you sometimes brush their teeth in your bathroom and on other days you brush their teeth in the kitchen, a child with CVI may struggle with this. This can be for a variety of reasons including the background in each room being different, them not knowing what to expect when they enter that room and more. We will get into this a little more with structure.
Engaging Morning Routines
Participating in an engaging morning can also be very beneficial for students. Now I don’t mean that you have to have a dance party every day (I mean you could…Koo Koo Kangaroo anyone???), but it just means that students are actively engaged in their routine.
THEY are helping to pick out their breakfast.
THEY are helping to unpack their backpack.
THEY are picking their free play toy.
THEY are getting their materials for morning work, etc.
This does not mean that the child can do whatever they want. It just means that they can have some choice in their morning routine. For example, breakfast is next on their schedule, and they have to eat breakfast. However, you can give them the choice of pancakes or oatmeal.
Creating a schedule that is engaging to them and that they can be an active participant in will help them to gain interest in their day as soon as they enter our classroom or wake up in the morning.
Structured Morning Routines
Lastly, providing a structured morning for students can be immensely beneficial. This does go hand in hand with creating a predictable morning for students, however, I separate them for a reason. Providing structure takes predictability a step further. Having a morning circle provides students with a predictable morning, however teaching the student what needs to be done prior to morning circle provides the structure. It also helps minimize downtime, unless that is part of the plan! Here is an example below.
In school, this might look like this:
At home, it might look like this:
put on backpack
I want to add that introducing a morning routine will not happen overnight and does not have to be perfect. For example, if your eventual goal is to establish the following routine: unpack backpack, wash hands/toileting, free play, morning work, and morning meeting/circle, you can start slow! At the beginning of the year (or whenever you are introducing this), introduce things slowly. For example, you might focus on the morning work part of their morning to start. You will teach them the icon for morning work on their schedule, you will show them where their morning work is located, where the student should sit to complete their morning work, etc. As this is mastered or at least starts to run smoothly, introduce other parts of the routine!
To help make mornings engaging, predictable, and structured at school, I created this CVI-friendly Morning Binder. Each student completes their own personalized morning binder during morning circle each day. The morning binder helps students identify or match (depending on their skill level) the day of the week, season, month, and weather.
The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to implement a morning routine. However, morning routines can be started at any point in the school year, so don’t worry if it is already February! Just remember to take it slow, teach all the parts, and have the student/child participate in as much of the routine as possible!