Own the Morning: Setting Up Our Children For Success at School Before They Walk Into Class

“Can I just have five more minutes?” This question is asked by countless children all around the world. Frankly, it is probably asked by countless adults as well. Many of us are not so-called morning people and neither are many of our children. However, what our children do and do not do in the morning can have a significant impact on their learning and overall well-being. I have personally witnessed many incredibly intelligent students get off to slow starts in the morning. This made me wonder, are we setting up our students for success in the classroom by what students do after waking? Taking inspiration from Aubrey Marcus’ book Own the Day, Own Your Life, below are list of must-dos and no-dos to ensure that our children are awake, energized, and ready to learn when that morning bell rings.

  • Water

It is estimated that we lose about a pound of water each night while we sleep. This occurs through the water vapor we breathe in and out throughout our sleeping hours. Additionally, many of us bury our children under multiple blankets and, therefore, our children lose some water through sweat. This adds up to our children (and ourselves) waking up dehydrated, but blame it on being tired, not sleeping well, or simply claiming that we are not a “morning person,” when what we really need is water and tons of it.

However, we not only lose water through sweat and breathing at night, we also lose key minerals Aubrey Marcus, CEO of the health and fitness company Onnit, suggests starting each morning with a mineral cocktail. He stirs up water, sea salt (the pink Himalayan one is the best), and a squeeze of lemon every morning. I personally have been drinking this every morning for over a year and it not only hydrates you, but tastes delicious as well. Whether it is keeping a water bottle next to your child’s bed, pouring water instead of sugary juice for breakfast, or enjoying a mineral cocktail in the morning, we must hydrate our children in order for them to arrive to school ready to learn.

  • Make Your Bed

United States Navy admiral, public speaker, and author William H. McRaven says that if you want to change the world, start by making your bed. This habit, he claims, is paramount because it ensures that we complete the first task of the day. In other words, we give ourselves a mini win first thing in the morning. This will also emphasize discipline, consistency, and the fact that the little things in life matter. This small task can be used as a valuable life lesson for our children. I recommend making your beds together with your child, because after all, we must practice what we preach.

  • Get Moving!

When writing her book “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast”, Laura Vanderkam surveyed countless of noteworthy leaders in their respective fields what they did before breakfast. She found that these people engage in some sort of physical activity before eating breakfast. This has not only physical benefits, but also helps jumpstart our children’s cognitive abilities.  If you have a pet, this could also mean running around chasing the house cat or taking the dog out for a 10-minute walk. Famed author and podcaster Tim Ferris suggests doing 25 of something every morning after waking. This could be something as simple as doing jumping jacks with your children or bouncing on the bed 25 times.

  • No More Sugary Cereals!

Recent studies from UCLA claim that diets high in sugar negatively affect memory and learning. Yet, we continually give our children cereal filled with nothing but sugar. According to The Daily Meal, the majority of cereals that our children eat have as much sugar in them as candy. In fact, Cap’n Crunch and Fruit Loops are made up of nearly 50% sugar! Instead, let’s feed our children good fats like eggs and avocados paired with high-fiber foods like oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables. This might seem like common sense, but think back about what your children ate this morning.

  • Sunlight

We take sunlight for granted. Exposing our bodies to sunlight in the morning sets off our Circadian rhythms (which are like our internal clock). When we get direct sunlight in the morning, we signal to our body and brain that it is time to wake up. Therefore, I strongly, strongly recommend walking your child to school if logistically possible. Not only will you get lovely sun exposure, but also reap the benefits of physical movement in the morning all while having some bonding quality time with your son(s) or daughter(s).

As an educator, the most common question I get asked by parents is how they can help their child learn. Yet, before any learning can occur in the classroom, our children need to come to school ready to learn, and what we do or do not in the morning can have the biggest impact. It is my unyielding hope that tomorrow morning you wake up, pour your child some water, make your beds together, engage in some physical movement, eat a low-sugar breakfast, and get some sunlight on the way to school.

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Carlos Monzon

Carlos Monzon

Carlos Monzon is a native Angeleno who teaches in the heart of Los Angeles. After teaching in the private sector and later for KIPP LA’s Charter Schools, Carlos now teaches fifth- grade for LAUSD where he was awarded the district’s Rookie Teacher of the Year in 2017. He was raised mostly by his mother and two older sisters whom he often refers to as “the queens of my life”.
He attended California State University Northridge for both his under and post- graduate studies. Carlos’ current thesis research revolves around innovative instructional and assessment strategies to deepen student’s depth-of-knowledge. He is passionate about closing the achievement gap of inner-city youth though his work inside and outside of the classroom.

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