Getting Kids Ready for School Begins with a Sleep Schedule

Kids may be clinging to summer fun but parents need to start being mindful about getting kids back on track for school.

A good night sleep benefits a child’s health and education. Kids need a lot of sleep, way more than mom or dad. It is recommended children ages 6 to 11 get 10-11 hours a night. And children ages 12 to 18 need at least nine hours.

However, children today do not get enough sleep due to distractions like technology, such as watching television before bed and texting into the night.

Sleep deprivation can affect children’s ability to learn. They may be disruptive in class by acting fidgety in an effort to stay awake. Or they cannot focus on the lessons at hand and cannot perform to their academic potential.

Here are some tips to get kids on a sleep schedule and keep them on track.

Start early: Summer break can get kids out of a sleep routine. Three weeks prior to the start of school, children should switch to a school day schedule, with bedtime scheduled as if it was a school night.

Set the time and stick to it. Set the time when a child needs to rise and go to bed and do the best to stick to it.

Turn off electronics. Kids should wind down without any electronics an hour prior to bedtime. Make the bedroom an electronic-free zone. Encourage children to place electronics on a charger away from the bedroom. Consider a family charging station in a common area.

Reserve the bed for sleeping. Kids may enjoy winding down with a good book. However, set up a chair or bean bag for reading time in their bedroom and keep the bed specifically for sleeping.

Set the mood. A good sleep environment is important. Nightlights are okay but the room should also be kept dark, cool and quiet.

Stick with the rules. While children may beg to play late into the summer night, parents need to stick to the new sleep schedule. Setting the limits and rules for children who want to push the envelope with more stories or other excuses to get out of bed can help prepare the child for school and the school year ahead.

By Erica Stoeger, APNPThedaCare Physicians-New London