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Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Back to School with ‘Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood’

Tips to simplify your family's morning routine

August 25, 2016
Tuesday, Sept. 6, our favorite fuzzy friend, Daniel Tiger, kicks off a week of new episodes and new songs that focus specifically on school-readiness strategies. 
I had the opportunity to watch two of the upcoming shows, “No Red Sweater for Daniel/Teacher Harriet's New Hairdo” and “Daniel's Allergy/Allergies at School,” with my little ones. The kiddos were enthralled. After just one viewing, they were singing new favorite songs. These are catchy tunes which — I confess — we are grateful for. They help the little ones remember that “we take care of each other” and “you can change your hair or what you wear but no matter what you do, you're still you,” among other important lessons. I grew up on Mister Rogers Neighborhood, so Daniel Tiger is a staple in our household. We are looking forward to the other new episodes.
We can also look forward to new additions to the PBS KIDS Games app and back-to-school resources for parents and teachers.
Around our house, back-to-school is an exciting time, for sure. The anticipation from a kid's perspective is comparable to a major holiday. As parents, it's an opportunity to start new routines and lay the foundation for a successful school year. With a little planning, communication and channeling the kids’ excitement into helping out, the back-to-school season can be a pleasant one. 
Disclaimer: I am a parent of two youngsters under age 5. These tips work for our family. We'd love to hear what works for yours! 

The week before:

Organize the kids’ clothes.

They don't have to be perfectly folded, as they won't last more than a few days that way anyway. Keep the selection pared down so there's not a whole lot of room for indecision. The kids are in charge of their outfits every day. We communicate this to them daily. Jeans, sweaters, socks and shirts, etc. all have a place and are in reachable drawers. Special occasion outfits are kept out of reach -- this eliminates the random swimsuit selection on a cold and rainy day. 

Put together the “getting ready” station.

We stock an easy-to-carry tote with toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, combs, hairbrushes and other accessories. If a bathroom is occupied, the tote moves and our morning routine also keeps moving. 
Getting Ready Station: Faucet extenders, step stools, tooth brushing timers and small mirrors for the little ones are great tools to help the kids get ready on their own.

Put together the launch-pad space.

While our entryway is small, we have utilized the space with hooks on the wall for coats and bags, a stool and a small basket for shoes. Extracurricular gear is also stored nearby.
Front Door Launch Pad: A good rule of thumb is to keep backpacks, shoes and coats by the door so nothing ends up missing.

The day before:

Review the upcoming day's schedule together as a family.

Talk with the kids about what's expected of them and what will make for a successful day. Set aside any special items needed for the next day and pack backpacks.

Put together the “breakfast and lunch station” with an emphasis on grab-‘n’-go.

Lunch boxes and water bottles should be kept here. Refill the coffee pot with fresh water and ground coffee. Stock your favorite items in single-serve containers within arms reach. 

Some of our favorites: fruit, veggies, cereal, yogurt/oatmeal cups, banana bread (our favorite is a version from America's Test Kitchen) and an easy to assemble potato-veggie-egg bite that reheats in less than two minutes in the microwave. 

First day of school:

Make it a point to wake up before the kids.

Give yourself a few minutes to collect your thoughts before the day begins. And if you can, squeeze an extra 20 minutes into your schedule for downtime right before you head out the door. 
One of our favorite Daniel Tiger songs (code name: “DT” in our household) is a great motivator to keep our morning routine on track.

“Clothes on, eat breakfast, brush teeth, put on shoes and off to school!” 

“Clothes on” — Kids, you’re in charge! 
“Eat Breakfast” — Eat together and talk about the day ahead. 
“Brush teeth” — Get ready together.
“Put on shoes” — Almost there… 
“... and off to school.” 

Tip: we actually reverse the breakfast and clothes step because the first outfit usually gets ruined with milk, yogurt or jam.

Here’s where the extra 20 minutes comes in handy. Ideally, we’re ahead of schedule and we can take a few frantic-free minutes to connect, grab a hot chocolate or make an emergency outfit change.
Happy back to school! What works for your family? 
Don't forget: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood airs weekdays at 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. (weekends at 7:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.) on KCTS 9 and online anytime at and the PBS KIDS Video app. New episodes begin Tuesday, Sept. 6.



Shaylan Frazee-McClellan

Shaylan has worked in public media for over a decade. She finds joy in exploring the Pacific Northwest through the eyes of her two small children. She has a passion for children's media, cooking, photography and writing about her adventures. Follow her on Twitter @shaylanfrazee. More stories by Shaylan Frazee-McClellan

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Very clear step by step way to start the day with the kids. Giving them the freedom and responsibility to take care of themselves fosters independence. Great ideas!