The shift from summer into the fall season can be a tough time for many kids—even if they’re eager to get back to school. If the transition is tough for them, you better believe that means you’ll have your hands full!
I’ve been through the shift many times as a mother, and I’ve watched it in thousands of my patients over the years. Here are a few things I have learned that help make life a little easier during this time:
1. One more hour matters.
Studies have shown that when kids get even one more hour of sleep per night, they concentrate and perform better at school.
It may not seem like much to an adult, but to a growing child, sixty extra minutes of snooze time helps make them less irritable and it makes teachers (and you) happier, too.
So, move bedtime back an hour. If this is too tough to do all at once, then start with fifteen minutes, then half an hour, and then one hour.
2. Rework bedtime
Many children have difficulty falling asleep at night—especially at the beginning of a school year. They are so used to being active up until bedtime that they have a hard time winding down. If you implement good sleep hygiene, they will fall asleep much more easily.
Make sure they stop watching television, playing video games, or being visually stimulated one hour before bedtime. If they want a snack, make sure it is at least half hour before bedtime and make it light—no heavy foods. They can listen to soothing music or a book on tape (one that is a bit slow moving) to help them wind down. One that is particularly good for kids is the Adventures in Odyssey Golden Audio Series.
3. Make electronics rules clear for everyone
Most kids can’t adequately discipline themselves regarding electronic gadget use. In my experience, most kids (even teens) want help learning to “turn off” stuff but won’t say this. So, begin by making house rules that all electronics stay off from 10-7 am.
Remember, many kids chat or text one another at night, and this keeps your kids up. If some can’t sleep, they will turn on the Internet to watch a show, play a game, etc. You may even need to have all electronics left in the kitchen for the night. Offer to put your cell phone in the kitchen, too. You may start with every other night and move to every night to make the transition more gradual. This is extremely important for kids who have difficulty concentrating on the school work.