The type of bag your little one carries around is about to change from beach bag to back pack. Back to school time is just around the corner, have you and your child transitioned out of their school year bedtime to a summer bedtime? How do you plan to transition them back? While children think about back-to-school shopping, new teachers, and homework, as parents we should be thinking about encouraging healthy habits to help our kids start back to school.
Beginning the gradual transitioning now allows your child to get adequate sleep at the beginning of the school year and will reduce some bedtime battles. Children need to get a good night’s sleep. Researchers suggest between 8 and 11 hours depending on age. Elementary students require 10-11 hours, while teenagers require 8-9 hours of sleep nightly. The chances are that during the summer your child’s sleep schedule became less regular. As summer begins to fade away, we must start to establish a back to school routine to prepare our children to be successful in school. Researchers state that children who have regular sleep patterns, those obtaining 8-11 hours of sleep, are more likely to earn higher grades than their peers who get less sleep. Students who have irregular sleep patterns can appear unalert and have low energy levels. These two areas are critical to school performance. Inadequate sleep may also lead to irritability, impaired focus, and can heighten symptoms of ADD/ADHD, if that is a concern for your family.
In order to help ease children into a back-to-school sleep routine, we need to begin several weeks before the start of school. So how do we do this?
1.Set a bedtime and wake up time. Then gradually move these times earlier (about 15 minutes every other day) as the school year starts to approach.
2. Be consistent and use this schedule
3. Encourage outdoor activity throughout the day, go outside for walks, play with friends, or go swimming, rather than sitting inside or in front of the TV.
4. Avoid caffeinated of high-sugar drinks near bedtime.
5. Create a good sleep environment that is comfortable, with dim lighting.
Begin the transition by setting up a 30-minute routine of pre-bedtime activities. Use a checklist to help your child take ownership of her routine. A good pre-bedtime routine helps the child slow down and prepare for sleep. Plus it helps set the stage for a smooth start in the morning. Here are some ideas for pre-bedtime activities:
1. Review the next day’s agenda together
2. Set out clothes and other items necessary for the next day
5. A quiet activity that does not include the computer, video games or TV.
As you begin to pack up your summer gear and purchase school supplies, be sure you establish a bedtime routine and start gradually transitioning early. Being prepared for the start of the school year will ensure success for the entire family, most importantly your child's education. Have a great school year!
How do you and your family make the transition from summer schdules to school year schedules?