Back To School
Hooray for this time of year, a winding down of the fun, unscheduled days of summer and getting back into the routine of school, work, after school activities, and weekends. A change in the family routine can seem daunting, so here are some suggestions to help everyone adjust to the demands of a new school year.
Shift the Sleep Schedule:
Sleep is often a big consideration. Staying up later and sleeping in or waking up whenever you like is a dream come true for most kids. When they change from summer to school, the change in sleep habits can be a big point of argument, maybe to the point of dreading the start of school.
Encourage your children to prioritize sleep for their health and set a good example yourself. Body growth and cellular repair are done at night, not to mention the great work done by the brain in times of rest. Science has helped recommend daily hours for each age group.
- Preschoolers, Age 3-5 years – 10-13 hours/24 hours (including naps)
- Grade schoolers Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours/24 hours
- Teens 13-18 years: 8-10 hours/24 hours
Regular bedtimes for older ages can be determined by sleeping to the point of waking up before an alarm.
Children who get enough sleep have a healthier immune system, better school performance, behavior, memory, and mental health. All children thrive on a regular bedtime routine. Something as simple as aiming for the same time every night and brush, book, bed can be the key components of a routine. Other considerations: avoid screen for at least 1 hour before bedtime, use the bed only for sleep, cool the room down, soothing scent like lavender, and snuggle in warm blankets.
Preparing for the School Day:
A mom recently told me that kindergarteners have it the best – they have tours of the school, parents are given tons of information about what is expected of the student, detailed lists of school supplies, a chance to eat ice cream or treats, or play on the playground before school starts. What a great welcome. For students who have been to the school for many years, a rehash over what worked well last year and what to look forward to this year may help them figure out some things that are helpful to talk through. Bus routes, pick-up routines, new teachers, sports schedules, etc. may be changed in some way.
Look forward at school schedules to help prevent your child and family from being overscheduled with activities after school. Developing a routine to spend quality time with each other for healthy meals, talks about the events of the day, relaxing with one another can help tasks get done.
Speaking of meals, be sure the day includes a good breakfast, whether that is at home or at school. Familiarize them with the lunch menu so they can prepare alternatives to selections they don’t like. Plan meals that include fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy products, water. Avoid processed, prepackaged foods that include too much salt, sugars, and saturated fats.
Preparing your Home:
Create an environment that is homework friendly:
- Their space – quiet, away from distractions, promotes study.
- Their time – consider how after school activities could be scheduled to not conflict with homework responsibilities.
- Their materials – Computer and internet usage should be monitored; social media outlets and gaming should be limited to free time.
- Their accomplishment – limit help with homework but be available for questions or to suggest when it is appropriate for a break or stretch.
There are times when homework can become overwhelming or bring up problems with your child’s understanding, organization or remembering assignments. Talk with the teacher for suggestions. Other resources are school counselors, tutors, physicians, and Children’s Resource Group professionals.
Creating a morning routine that involves everyone helping one another to get where they need to be on time is a fine art of family wellbeing. Looking forward to the end of the day, when everyone can get together to compare what happened during the day, what is needed for tomorrow, is also valuable time for each member of the family. It may sound like I am talking about a different time or an impossibility with the demands of our society. But, if you can work toward one project for your family and that helps, that is important and a reason to be grateful for that one aspect that is your family’s special good thing.
Here are my resources for your continued success.