After weeks of no homework, staying up late and sleeping in over summer break, it can be hard for kids to return to the daily grind of school. But we all know how important it is that kids are prepared, so here are a few tips to help with the adjustment.
- Early to bed. According the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids between the ages of 3 to 5 need 10 to 13 hours of sleep each night. From ages 6 to 12, they should be getting 9 to 12 hours, and teenagers need between 8 and 10 hours every night.
Adequate sleep will improve attention and concentration, memory and the ability to regulate emotions. Too little sleep, according to AAP, increases injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, especially in teens. Set a firm bedtime and your child will have a better chance of doing well.
That’s not to say it’ll be easy to get them to bed—teens, especially, are biologically wired to stay up later. But there are adjustments that can help. For one, make sure they’re not getting any screen time at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime. The blue light emitted from laptops, tablets, cell phones and TVs disrupts melanin, the hormone that regulates sleep cycles.
Instead, get them to relax with a little light reading or soft music. Or have them close their eyes and focus on their breathing (click here for a few effective techniques). And make sure they’re not taking in any caffeine later in the afternoon or evening. Energy drinks, tea, coffee, chocolate and some types of soda will all work against you.
- Creatures of habit. You can’t plan for everything—that wouldn’t be life as we know it. But setting a routine and sticking to it as close as possible is important for kids, especially when they’re younger. A regular schedule gives kids a sense of security because they know what they can expect. It gives the freedom of mind to concentrate on other things, like schoolwork. It strengthens brain development, independence and coping skills.
But if you’re like most of us, summer break sometimes throws the normal parenting routine out of whack. Try to get back into it a couple of weeks before school starts. Consistent wake-up times, meals, baths and after-school routines will do a lot to help them focus on what’s important: learning (see more on why routines are important for kids—and parents).
- Homeworked up. Along with good sleep and solid routines, ease your kids back into the idea of doing homework a few weeks before school starts up. If your kids had required summer reading, then they’re already off to a good start. Reading, even for just 30 minutes a day, is a great way to get back into the swing of things.
You can also have them go over homework from the year before—provided some of it was saved. This will help catch them up on the ideas and topics they were learning before the year ended. That way, they’ll hit the ground running when lessons resume.
As a company that supports childhood education, we know the beginning of each school year can be a challenging time—for kids, parents and educators. We hope these tips help.