• Start getting kids in bed early. Begin a week before school gets underway. You can't force them to sleep, but you can see they're snuggled in bed looking at books.
• Get yourself up and ready first. If you work outside the home, this step is crucial. All goes more smoothly those first days when you're available to guide your children each step of the way.
• Give reminders. Most kids learn to move through the morning routine in a timely fashion. Others need reminders until high school graduation: "Son, I think you forgot to brush your teeth."
• State the obvious. "Your coat is on, now put on your shoes." Later, give one-word directives. Just say "shoes," or ask, "What are you supposed to do next?"
• Avoid yelling and harsh treatment. Negative ingredients can quickly become embedded in the routine. No parent likes sending their child out the door after a screaming match.
• Tack on an additional task. Once the morning schedule becomes routine, you can add an element: throwing dirty clothes in the hamper, making beds, putting together lunches.
Most children adjust to the new school year after a week, but if after a month your child resists getting up and going to school, it's time to evaluate why. Start by talking to your child's teacher.
Remember your goal: You want your children up and out the door on time, and to move securely through the school day so each can reach her academic potential. Ask yourself how you wish the school year to go, then ask yourself how you can help it happen.