It’s time to head back to school soon and while school supplies are being bought and labelled there is one thing that is often overlooked when preparing for back to school.
And that’s our child’s sleep.
It’s important for your child to be well-rested during the school year to promote:
Stronger Cognitive Ability
- It can be hard to learn and remember new things when tired. A well-rested child has an easier time heightening skills that are needed in school such as, attention, memory and decision-making.
Better Mood and Temperament
- We all know what our mood is like when we haven’t had enough sleep. It’s no different for our children who actually need more sleep than we do. Let’s face it children will not bring home any student awards without sleep. Logging in more sleep at night will mean more pleasant behaviour and their teachers will thank you for it.
Stable Immune System
- The better rested your child is, the stronger their immune system will be to fight off colds and viruses that spread across the classrooms during the school year. Ick! Boost your kids’ sleep and you’ll boost your kids’ health.
There are steps you can take and ones to avoid when starting to get your family back on sleep track before the school year starts.
What to Include:
Bring Back Their Age Appropriate Bedtime
- During the summer months routines tend to be thrown out the window so it’s important that once school begins you make sure that your child starts going to bed early again. Appropriate bedtimes for toddlers and school-aged children are between 7 and 8pm.
- Tip! You need to reset your child’s internal clock in your back to elementary school routine and you can start doing this at least 2 weeks before school actually starts. During the week and even on the weekends have your child go to bed and wake up at the same time they will once school begins to prevent insomnia in children.
Reinstate the Calming Bedtime Routine
- Doing similar activities before your child goes to bed each night will really help cue them that sleep is coming next making for a more relaxing and calming bedtime routine for everyone. Reading kids books instead of watching TV is a great way to do this.
- Tip! Give your child a 10-15 minute warning before getting ready for bed so they are prepared and know what to expect.
Communicate Their Sleep Needs
- Discuss the importance of sleep with your child. Ask them why they need sleep, how much sleep do they think they need, how do they feel when they are tired, and how do they feel when they get a good night of sleep. Opening this sleep training communication helps them understand why you are making the necessary changes to their routines and helps to build a healthy relationship between sleep and your child.
What to Avoid:
Staying Plugged In
- Remember to remove over stimulating activities during the bedtime routine and turn off the TV and computers. The bright lights from the screen can turn our sleep switch off by slowing down the release of melatonin.
- Tip! At least 60 minutes before bedtime turn off tech. It’s a great tip for you too mom and dad.
Consuming too Much Caffeine
- Watch your child’s caffeine intake throughout the day. Avoid soda, chocolate and iced tea in late afternoon and at dinnertime.
Scheduling Too Many Activities
- Be careful not to overschedule your child’s activities. If evenings are tough and rushed then opt for a weekend class, where your child will feel more rested taking it and you won’t be rushed to get there.
- Tip! It’s okay to have one day off. Choose one day on the weekend to be your family’s day off and protect that downtime. Hang out with the kids and have some quality bonding time. They need a day to relax and so do you.
Following these steps can help make an easier transition back into elementary school and better nights and mornings for the entire family. And maybe this year they might just bring home a few student awards.
About the Author
Alanna McGinn is a mother of three (1 + twins!), Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site, and Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC). When she’s not on route to the bus stop or tripping over fire trucks and tea sets, she’s working with families to overcome their sleep challenges. Follow Alanna on Facebook and Twitter for daily sleep tips and advice.