Bedtime is probably the biggest transition your family needs to make to get back in the routine of the school season. But it may take several weeks to reset your student's internal clock to the school schedule. Gradual transitioning allows your child to get adequate sleep at the beginning of the school year and will reduce some bedtime battles.
Most elementary school students need 10 to 11 hours of sleep, while most teenagers need 8 to 9 hours of sleep nightly. Inadequate sleep leads to irritability, impaired focus, and can heighten symptoms of ADD/ADHD, if that is a concern for your family.
Begin the transition by setting up a 30-minute routine of pre-bedtime activities. Use a checklist to help your child take ownership of her routine. A good pre-bedtime routine helps a child slow down and prepare for sleep. Plus it helps set the stage for a smooth start in the morning. Here are some ideas for pre-bedtime activities:
- Review the next day's agenda
- Pack the backpack and set it out
- Set out clothes for the next day
- Put on pajamas
- Do a quiet activity that does not include the computer, video games, or TV.
Transition gradually. Start the pre-bedtime routine 10 to 15 minutes earlier every few nights. It may take two weeks to adjust to going to bed an hour earlier. But consistency is important in establishing the routine, so try to follow the schedule on weekends as well.
Following a transition plan will help prepare your child for a new school year with as little stress as possible -- for the whole family.
Copyright © 2008-2009 by Denise Lee for Cozi, the Family Organizer.