For the first time in almost three decades, I’m not heading “back to school” this time of year. In the past, I’ve always either been a student or been working in a school (or both). It’s a little strange now that I don’t have that seasonal fresh start for my work, but I still get to do the “back to school” thing as a parent of an elementary schooler and two preschoolers. I’m grateful to have at least 16 more “back to schools” to go.
A huge consideration with starting back after summer break is the morning routine. I hope your kids had a summer filled with popsicles, tons of outside play, and relaxed morning routines. Now’s the time to start moving the bedtimes and wake ups a little earlier each day (10-15 minutes) until you hit the target start for a regular school morning.
Regarding sleep, the American Pediatric Association recommends the following:
- Children ages 3-5 should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps).
- Children ages 6-12 should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours.
- Teenagers 13-18 should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours.
- Adequate sleep duration for age on a regular basis leads to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep each night is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, especially for teens who may experience increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
- In addition to these recommendations, the AAP suggests that all screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime and that TV, computers and other screens not be allowed in children’s bedrooms. (www.aap.org)
I highlighted two parts above. The first is the improved outcomes for kids who get good sleep. Each one of those is an area I might work on with a client. I’ve had many families over the years who didn’t promote good sleep and their child showed negative behaviors as a result. Set your child up for success and have a good routine and a consistent bedtime.
The second part I highlighted was screen time. I will write more about this in the future, but regarding sleep the important part is that screens are not in children’s bedrooms.
I’m including a morning chart I created for my own kids. The first one is for a four-year-old who loves life so much that he moves rather slowly through it. He doesn’t struggle to “stop and smell the roses,” in fact, he stops to smell ALL the roses. This makes everyday tasks take much longer than his mother would like them to take. The chart has been very helpful for him to focus. The second chart is for a six-year-old who can read some words. Feel free to download and modify these for your family. I laminated ours and my kids use a dry-erase marker to check off each item. The best part is I don’t have to nag and say “did you brush your teeth?” or “hurry up and put on your shoes!” Now it’s up to them. My house is a nag-free zone in the mornings.