AM & PM Routines: Increasing Independence

Dear Homeschooler,

RoutinesIf you are like me, I don’t have a whole lot of extra time in the morning. In fact, I needed to find some extra time, so that I could exercise in the mornings and get myself organized for the day. I looked at where I was spending my time, and I realized that  most of my morning time was spent getting my kids ready for the day i.e. reminding them over and over again to put down whatever toy had caught their eye and to get dressed… brush their teeth… and so on. I am a firm believer in building independence in my kids, so —  in true Jennifer fashion — I made schedules. Admittedly, my kids love schedules as much as I do.

Morning Routine

ZooKid is reading, so his routine is written out. Princess Super Kitty is a pre-reader, so her routine is both words and pictures. I encourage them to go in order because I arranged their schedules so they won’t be in the bathroom at the same time. One is getting dressed while the other is brushing teeth. This works out MOST of the time (I will admit — not ALL the time). We start our morning routines right after breakfast.



Here are the Benefit Bullets:

  • I tell my kids, “Start your morning routine,” and they do, with minimal prompts.
  • The act of checking off each activity keeps them engaged. I no longer have to ask them “Have you brushed your teeth, yet?” 4 times.
  • Expectations are clarified independently from me i.e. I don’t have to be the one to tell them what they have to do.
  • They are working on independent follow through. They know exactly what the expectations are, and so they have to be the ones to tell themselves to ‘get ‘er done.’ 🙂
  • They have a sense of pride knowing they accomplished something on their own. (Other rewards: the quicker they complete their routine, the more time they get with their fun bucket. See below.)
  • I have a few extra minutes to get myself (and the house, and lessons, etc.) organized for the day.

You’ll notice the last point is ‘check schedule.’ This is their school schedule. If they get done before ‘school starts,’ I have fun buckets sitting at their desks, full of sticker books, mazes, puzzles, etc. to keep them occupied until I am ready to start lessons. This also serves as build-in reinforcement/consequences: if they stay on-track and get through their routine quickly, the more time they get to play with their fun bucket, but the more they play around and longer they take to complete their routine, the less time (or no time, some days) they get to play with their fun bucket.

Evening Routines

If it worked with the morning, it should work at night, right?


This makes our bedtime routine go fairly smoothly. The repetition of any evening routine helps kids prepare their minds and bodies for bed. I mean, once they understand exactly what is going happen, there tends to be less resistance. Obviously, life gets in the way sometimes. Friday nights are our family movie nights, so the kids stay up later and often fall asleep in the pile of blankets on the floor. Life is good!



Free Downloads

Download the editable Pre Readers Routine

Download the editable Readers Routine


What do your morning/evening routines look like? I’d love to hear about them. Comment below and upload a picture if you want. 🙂

Till Next Time,



  1. Kids do so much better with routine, and the independence they learn is really priceless! We have a pretty tight schedule around here in this season in our life, our Autistic kiddo needs to have visuals schedules of our day to make it work. We also use visual chore cards for the kids daily chores. Thanks for the printables, they are great. Have a blessed week!!

  2. We use something similar and my kids love it. It really puts them in charge. So much more fun to put PJs on because they “chose” to do it as opposite to mommy telling them to do it.

  3. Great post. I did this when my kids were little too – a little bit of training brings long term rewards. Some children need this list tool for the rest of their life – I have one teenager who is slow to wake up in the morning so having her list to tell her what to do means she doesn’t have to think. And the same for me – having a list keeps me from being distracted!! So you are teaching your kids a life long skill – not just something that is helpful for your family now.

  4. I love this idea! And I’m so thankful that you have this available for download! I know that this will be so helpful for my boys.

  5. I agree. Mornings can be so consuming with just getting daily tasks in. Any sort of routine builder is appreciated.

    • This has definitely freed up some of my morning. Having the kids do some morning chores (tidying up/clearing breakfast dishes/emptying the dishwasher) has helped a lot, too.

  6. LOVE this idea! I’m going to try it tonight with my littles. I’m a list person so this is right up my alley.

  7. Great idea. I love the idea of building independence and accountability.

    • Those are two very important traits to build in our kids! I go out of my way to make sure they see the consequences (good and bad) of their choices.

  8. I agree, children need to know what to expect!

  9. It is so important to have visuals for children. Thanks for sharing this easy way to help children develop routines.

    • Nancy, I agree! Visuals help kids understand — even those who don’t read or have a hard time following multi-step instructions can follow a series of pictures!

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