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TomTag life skill – school routines

school girl carrying rucksack with packing checklist attached

Minimise stressful, chaotic school mornings with preparation, practice and patience.  

Children who can wash, brush their teeth and dress themselves independently won’t need constant reminding of what to do. Whilst a consistent morning ( and evening routine) will make things run more smoothly for everyone.

We’ve lots of advice on how you can develop your child’s self care skills in our tips and resources section. Here are some of our tips for establishing that all important winning school routine.

go to sleepevening compilThe night before

The best way to avoid frantic and stressful school mornings is to have a regular evening routine. Preparing the night before frees up time in the morning and helps you to sleep well knowing that everyone is ready to get up and go.

If your child needs help to settle and calm down before bed, use TomTag to make a bedtime routine timeline to help reinforce your expectations and ensure everyone gets a good night’s sleep.


tidy upA place for everything

Set aside a designated area for coats, shoes, bags, sports gear, letters, etc. and encourage your child to use it. A little effort setting this up now will make everyday packing and organising so much quicker and easier.

This doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive – some simple wall hooks or stacked boxes might be all you need. Check out our Pinterest Back to School Organisation board for some creative ideas.


homework

Homework

Some children may prefer to get it done and out of the way straight away whilst others may need a rest, a snack or some chill-out time first. Go with what works best for your child but be consistent so that your child knows what is expected. Using a designated area for homework also helps create good habits; this might simply be at the kitchen table with supervision for younger children or a quieter place at a bedroom desk for older ones.

Check out your school’s homework policy to see how much time they expect your child to spend on it. If they’re struggling with something in particular, set a time limit then leave it and write a note to the teacher explaining the position.


school uniform

School uniform

Setting out clothes the night before saves a lot of stress trying to find clean clothes in the morning. Don’t forget pants and socks too! Help to keep uniform tidy by encouraging children to change out of it when they get home from school and hang it up ready for the next day.

 


pack bags

Pack your bags

School bag packedGet into the habit of packing up school bags the night before to avoid that mad morning rush around the house looking for missing items. Check bags for any letters or permission slips that need returning and empty out anything that isn’t needed for the next day. If there’s anything that can’t be left out the night before (eg. packed lunches) leave a sticky note on top of the bag to remind you to add it in the morning.

With the right guidance, even very young children can take responsibility for packing their own school bags. Our TomTag I can do it – pack my bag for school kit attaches to any school bag and helps children remember what they need to take to school and bring home again each day. For tips on teaching this skill, read our short guide here.


breakfast

morning compilReady, steady, go!

Just like at bedtime, you can use TomTag to make a timeline for your morning routines. For children just learning self care skills , you might need to start with an individual list for each task, such as showering, dressing, brushing teeth, etc.

If your child can manage these independently and responsibly then one quick morning summary checklist might be all you need to prompt them each day.

We wish you good luck and many happy, smooth-sailing, school mornings!

Resources

  • product cover teeth minikit

    I can do it – brush my teeth

  • I can do it – pack my bag for school

  • I can do it – self care skills

  • product cover image for minikit morning & evening

    I know what to expect – morning and evening

  • cover image what to expect at home kit

    I know what to expect at home

  • cover image sticker pack my school kit

    My school kit

  • cover image download school morning routines

    School morning routines

 

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TomTag life skill – getting dressed

yellow dressing checklist next to items of clothing

Learning how to put on their clothes and shoes is an important step for children to take on the road to independence.  The ability to get dressed by themselves will give them confidence to function independently at school and, once your child has it mastered, it’s one less thing for you to worry about in the mornings!

If your child starts school in September then now would be a great time to start developing their dressing skills, giving a few weeks practice time before the big day.

Getting dressed – putting on clothes in the right order, fastening buttons and zips and tying shoe laces – involves mastering many skills. We need balance and co-ordination of movements to get our limbs in all the right places, refined motor skills to deal with many types of fastenings and an understanding of concepts such as left/right and inside/outside.

Teaching these skills often requires a lot of patience but the results will be worth it in the long run. Using TomTag to make a simple visual checklist showing what order each item of clothing should be put on is a good place to start. You can also help by laying out clothes the night before, making sure they are the right side out.

With practice and encouragement your child will soon be dressed and ready to go before you are!


uniformUniform

With most schools these days having a uniform, there will be little choice in which clothes your child can wear for school. There are some things you can do though to make things a little easier for them.

Only undo the top few buttons on a shirt or blouse and put it on over the head so that fewer buttons need to be done up. Buttonholes on new shirts are often tight so opening them up slightly may help.

Choose trousers or skirts with elasticated waists where possible and opt for loose fitting items with velcro or large buttons which are easier to put on than tight fitting ones.


tieTie

If your child’s uniform includes a tie and an elasticated version isn’t an option, this useful video of a young boy demonstrating how to tie a tie may help.

 

 


socksSocks

Begin with large, short socks that slip more easily over the feet. Socks with coloured heels make it easier to get them the right way round. Try Little Grippers school socks for socks that stay on – and up! – all day long.

 

 


shoesShoes

Having a designated place for shoes will save valuable time spent hunting for them in the morning! Of course, these days there are many alternatives to traditional laced shoes available but at some point the skill to tie laces will be required. The ‘bunny ears’ is a popular method and YouTube is an excellent resource for demonstrations of this and other tying methods.

Try practising using different coloured, longer laces but if your child continually struggles with tying laces then there are now several products on the market (such as Hickies, Greepers and Lock Laces) that can help.


coatCoat

Start practising with different, larger types of coat. If the sleeve by sleeve approach isn’t working try this flip flop over the top method wonderfully described by Connectability.ca – you might want to stand well back until they get better at this one though!

Attach a zip pull or a key ring to the zip to help with gripping the tab and make zipping easier.


starWell done!

Don’t forget to give plenty of praise to your child for their efforts at each stage and consider using a star chart to help them establish their routine.

A great approach to use is ‘backward chaining‘ where the child learns the last step first. Once they can do the last step, teach the second to last step and so on until they have mastered them all. The great advantage of this method is that the child always gets the reward of completing the task themselves.

Sensory and developmental issues

If your child is sensitive to clothing, EcoOutfitters offer school clothing made from 100% pure organic cotton.

Check for labels and seams that might cause irritation and cut them out where possible. Washing clothes several times before wearing helps to soften them too.

Dressing in front of a mirror provides important visual cues that can help a child with sequencing, body planning and body awareness. If your child continues to have difficulty with dressing, a qualified occupational therapist should be able to help.

Resources

  • I can do it – self care skills

  • cover image what to expect at home kit

    I know what to expect at home

  • cover image download school morning routines

    School morning routines

  • cover image sticker pack self care

    Self care

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TomTag life skill – personal hygiene

self care tag image 1

Teaching children the importance of keeping their bodies clean is the best way to help prevent infections and reduce the spread of germs. Helping children feel good about themselves and caring about the way they look is important for self esteem and helps them to keep healthy in later life.

Parents should lead by example by making personal hygiene part of everyday life. A simple visual checklist breaking down personal hygiene routines into small steps can be an effective way to teach and remind children how to take care of their bodies and will help them develop good personal hygiene practices for life.

personal hygiene collage

Using TomTag

Checklists for learning personal hygiene routines such as hand washing, showering, bathing, hair care or general daily hygiene tasks can be created using symbols from our self care sticker pack. Our In the House sticker pack also contains a selection of personal care symbols.

Keep them handy in the bathroom or bedroom – all our stickers, tags and buttons are waterproof so there’s no need to worry about any splashes!

Here’s some tips for hygiene skills we think are particularly important.


wash handsWash hands

Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infection. Remind children to wash their hands after using the toilet, playing outside, before eating, after blowing their nose or coughing and after petting animals.

Show children how to wash hands effectively using the 5 step method – wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry. Get more tips from the NHS wash your hands campaign.


brush hairBrush hair

Hair should be brushed every day. If your child has sensory issues try a brush with a large head and use a firm stroke as you brush. Use strategies such as brushing in front of a mirror so your child can predict when the brush is coming and giving definite time limits to the task e.g. let’s count to 10.

 


bathShower/bath

Establish a regular bathing routine either daily or every few days. This may be a calming activity as part of your child’s night time routine. Show your child how to wash the entire body and if sensory issues are a consideration, use non perfumed soap, a large sponge and lots of deep pressure when washing and drying.

 


deodorantDeodorant

As your child becomes older body odour may be an issue. Provide deodorant if necessary and explain why it is needed. Emphasise that using a deodorant is not an alternative to washing!

 

 


cut nailsCut nails

Keeping nails short helps to prevent bacteria and dirt from collecting under them. If your child dislikes having their nails cut try using baby nail clippers and cutting them straight after bathing when the nails are softer. Cutting nails whilst they are asleep is another option but only if your child is a sound sleeper!

 


blow noseBlow nose

Remind your child not to pick their nose as this increases the spread of germs. Teaching a child how to blow their nose can be a frustrating task so if you’re struggling these tips to help kids learn how to blow their nose  from The OT Toolbox are useful.


 

Resources

  • I can do it – self care skills

  • product cover toilet routine minikit

    I can do it – toilet routine

  • cover image sticker pack self care

    Self care

 

 

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TomTag life skill – teeth brushing

self care tag image 3

Poor oral hygiene can be damaging for children in many ways; they may not want to smile, have problems eating food and then there’s the pain and upset of toothache. This can easily be prevented by introducing a regular and healthy teeth-cleaning routine as early as possible.

A simple visual checklist breaking down the teeth-brushing routine into small steps is an effective way to teach children how to take care of their teeth. Setting a good example by following a proper daily hygiene routine yourself as well as regular reminders to your child will pave the way for great dental health and happy smiles!

toothbrush

Toothbrush

Choose a medium soft brush with a small head. Letting your child choose their own toothbrush may encourage them to use it too.

 


toothpaste

Toothpaste

Using a flouride toothpaste helps prevent decay. Check on the pack and use a toothpaste with a flouride level of at least 1000ppm for children up to age three and 1350-1500ppm for anyone older.

If your child is particularly sensitive to strong flavours or dislikes foaming then try this unflavoured, non-foaming fluoride toothpaste from OraNurse® .

 


Toothpaste on brush

Children under three should use a smear of toothpaste and then only use a pea-sized amount to up age seven.

Brush twice a day – once just before bedtime (but after any milk or other snacks) and at least one more time during the day.


brush teeth

Brush teeth

Use small circular motions with gentle pressure and concentrate on one section at a time. Brush for at least 2 minutes – using a timer really helps. We love the free, NHS approved, Brush DJ app that plays 2 minutes of music taken from your device to make brushing more entertaining!
Spit out toothpaste but don’t rinse or only use a small amount of water so as not to wash away the flouride.


floss teeth

Floss teeth

Flossing once a day helps to clean thoroughly between teeth and prevents the build-up of plaque. Floss sticks can make the job easier for children than traditional string floss.

 


awesome

Great job!

Don’t forget to praise your child for their efforts and maybe even use a star chart to get them established in their routine and reward them when they remember to brush without any reminder.

Using TomTag

Our I can do it – brush my teeth mini kit is a handy sequence reminder to hang in the bathroom – there’s no need to worry about any splashes with TomTag’s waterproof stickers!

 

 

Other resources

The Children’s University of Manchester have some great interactive online resources about teeth and gums aimed at KS2 children and the British Dental Health Foundation offers plenty of practical advice and information on caring for children’s teeth.

 

 

  • product cover teeth minikit

    I can do it – brush my teeth

  • I can do it – self care skills

  • cover image sticker pack self care

    Self care

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Teach toothbrushing with TomTag

The latest Children’s Dental Health Survey reveals startling statistics of widespread tooth decay in children. It’s clearly an issue in many households.

brush teeth tagA regular and efficient toothbrushing routine is therefore essential for putting your children on the road to good dental health.

Keeping a simple checklist on hand in the bathroom is a great way to get started.

Introducing our I can do it – brush my teeth mini kit. A tag, 6 buttons and symbols ( including 2 blank stickers for extra personalisation) = £4.00 including postage ( UK only). Far cheaper than a lifetime of fillings and dental treatment!

We also recommend downloading the free, NHS-approved Brush DJ app onto your phone or tablet. This app plays 2 minutes of music taken from the user’s device to encourage brushing for an effective length of time.

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Baking with children

grand day gromit
When was the last time you enjoyed a family baking session? 1st-7th December 2014 is Wallace & Gromit’s Big Bake week so it seemed like a good excuse to talk about the benefits of baking with children.

As well as a chance to spend some quality time together and enjoy a sense of shared achievement, baking with children can help to build their self confidence and has numerous additional benefits.

Maths and science

Counting and measuring ingredients puts maths skills to use in a meaningful and practical way. Get a real hands-on science experience by making observations and predicting change.

measuring

Reading & sequencing

Practice reading skills, learn new vocabulary and don’t forget to follow the steps of the recipe in the correct order!

Listening & speaking

Talk about what utensils and ingredients you need to prepare before you begin.

Discuss what might happen if you missed out an ingredient or step of the recipe.

Involve the child in making choices about decoration or variations.

speaking

Full sensory experience

Children use their senses to learn more about the world around them.

Touch – feel the difference in textures of ingredients

Sight – does it looked baked yet?

Hearing – listening and discussing

Smell – there’ll hopefully be some wonderful aromas to enjoy

Taste – enjoy the fruits of your labour and appreciate that wonderful home-baked flavour!

Fine motor practice

Rubbing a mixture into breadcrumbs or using cookie cutters can develop the strength children need in their fingers to help with writing skills and self care issues.

Let’s get messy!

I often use baking to engage with my autistic son.

His current interest is Eddie Stobart lorries so a lorry cookie cutter and green food colouring were all we needed to turn our favourite cookie dough into the iconic lorries!

Eddie Biscuits

On other occasions I’ve used his obsession with numbers to encourage him to get involved in making number-shaped biscuits.

Need some inspiration?

There are so many free recipes and resources on the web these days – check out Jamie Oliver and Baking Mad for some of our favourites.

And finally……

Remember to praise them for their culinary achievements and don’t forget to encourage them to help you wash up afterwards!