Children might have mixed feelings about returning to normal school routines after a fun winter break. Here`s a way to make the transition less difficult for the whole family.
RETURN TO YOUR BEDTIME ROUTINE
Parents allow their children to stay up late or sleep in on special occasions (such as winter break) but it is necessary to return to normal sleep patterns before returning to school. That is because consistent, quality sleep is essential for your child’s learning ability.
According to a statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), sleep deprivation is associated with “attention, behavior, and learning problems.” And: “Lack of sleep also increases the risk of accidents, injuries, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and depression.”
In the days leading up to class, American Academy of Sleep Medicine delays bedtime by 15-30 minutes each night until she returns to her normal sleep schedule. AASM recommends the following optimal sleep times for children and teens:
• 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
• 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
• 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours (including nap)
• 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
• 13-18 years: 8-10 hours.
CREATE A BACK-TO-SCHOOL COUNTDOWN
When school resumes, lazy days in pajamas suddenly seem to come to the end. Make the transition to the class easier, especially for younger children, by creating a visual countdown to the end of winter break. That way other routines do not creep in unexpectedly. Older children can keep track of how much free time they have by marking dates in their own calendars.
DISCUSS THE YEAR AHEAD
Before school starts in the fall, we encourage you to discuss your expectations for the coming year with your child. Teachers and classes will remain much the same after the winter break, so parents can expect their children to need less preparation. Some things change. Talking about children’s worries and concerns can make them feel more comfortable. An older child or teen may want to work on making academic New Year’s resolutions.
CELEBRATE THEIR FIRST WEEK BACK
Coming back to school after a fun winter break can be a little disappointing. Organizing something special to celebrate the completion of the first week can help soften the blow. Some examples: movie night, special play date, dinner at your favorite restaurant, family game night, bowling. When math class feels boring, encourage them with the upcoming treat!
STOCK UP ON SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Review with the child their school supplies during the winter break and get some new of them if needed. For younger children, this may mean crayons, a new glue stick, a box of tissues, or hand sanitizer. Older children may be happy with new reading materials, colorful folders, or notebooks.
MAKE YOUR MORNINGS EASIER
School mornings can be challenging, especially if your kids used to move slowly during the holidays. Be sure to make some preparations ahead of time to keep your before-school hours running smoothly. You can ask the children to organize and pack their school supplies and backpacks before bedtime, prepare breakfast items or lunch the night before, set clothing options. If you have a large family, adjust your bathroom schedule. Consider leaving home 10 minutes to avoid being late for the first day.
VALIDATE YOUR CHILD’S FEELINGS
It is normal for children to have mixed feelings about getting back to school. They might be looking forward to seeing your friends and teachers, or they might be anxious and worried. Both reactions are normal and valid. Encourage the children to express their feelings and listen patiently. Children are more likely to share their feelings and concerns when they feel heard. Act as a safe space and let your kindness help summon the courage needed to face all of life’s challenges.