Practice Isn’t Just for Youth

Next week, school starts in our area. As a parent, I’m looking forward to going back to the familiar school-day routine. This year, though, it will be a little different. School will be starting a half hour earlier, which means everyone—including mom and dad—will have to wake up earlier, learn a new morning routine, and be out the door sooner than we’ve had to for the past three years.

While a half hour may not seem like much, when that half hour falls before sunrise (and when you’re trying to get a first-grader and preschooler out of bed) a half hour is a big deal. To make it easier on the first day of school, our family has been using this week as our “practice” time. That means we’re all practicing and learning our new morning routine now, even though the new schedule hasn’t gone into effect yet.

Has it gone smoothly every day? Of course not! The first-grader got out of bed this morning an hour late. I asked him what would have happened if today had been a school day. He replied that he’d be late for school and would have to explain to his teachers the reason for his tardiness. He doesn’t want to have that conversation with his new teachers, so this practice time is helping him learn what he needs to do to make sure he’s up on time.

And since you can’t learn and be perfect at the same time, as Dr. Marshall reminds us, I must admit that this practice week is as much for me as it is for the children. This half hour earlier start to the day means I have to modify my usual morning routine as well. While it’s the children’s responsibility to wake up on time, it’s my responsibility to drive them to school at a certain time. This week I’m learning what I do and don’t have time for in the early morning hours.

It’s true that learning and mastering anything new takes practice—and sometimes lots of it. By practicing our new morning routine before we need to actually implement it, the first day of school should be stress-free and enjoyable for all.