Back-to-school sleep schedule:
For many kids, it's almost time to head back to school. We know your students have been staying up late, sleeping in—enjoying the summer. Well, now is the time to get them back on a schedule.
How do I get my kids on a sleep schedule?
Kids do need a transitional period so it’s best to start early before school begins. I’d recommend you start tonight. Gradually adjust sleep and wake up schedules. This will help get their biological clocks get used to it.
What about routines – can they help?
Routines make life easier. It relaxes the child which helps them fall asleep faster. A good routine eases the transition to bedtime so here are my prescriptions:
Dr. Partha Nandi’s RX for bedtime routine:
1. Turn off electronics earlier. Remove them from the bedroom at least one hour before bed.
2. Make sure bedrooms have a proper sleep environment. Have it quiet, dimly lit and comfortable.
3. Limit their caffeine intake after lunch. Otherwise they may be awake longer than you want them to.
4. Be consistent - do this every night. It’ll become an easy to follow pattern.
Why should parents turn off electronics an hour before bed?
Technology can be stimulating to a child’s brain. It also disrupts melatonin which can make it difficult for your child to fall asleep. I’d recommend a relaxing book to read before bed.
It doesn’t really matter how old your student is, there’s usually a little back to school anxiety. These feelings are completely normal and understandable following a long summer break.
What can parents do to relieve anxiety?
There are a few things you can do to ease the transition back. The biggest thing is to talk to your child. Ask them how they are feeling. Get them excited about school. If they have some negativity about it, don’t discount their feelings. Try to focus on the positive things- like seeing friends. Talking will let them know you support them.
Dr. Partha Nandi’s RX for easing back to school anxiety:
1. Drive or walk the route to school in advance. This will help with familiarity and reconnect them.
2. Visit the school prior. Have them walk through where they’ll hang their jacket, where they’ll eat lunch, where the bathrooms are. All this will make them feel more comfortable.
3. Get your home organized for back to school. Have your child organize their school supplies, pick out their back-to-school clothes and establish a quiet homework area.
4. Try to be home more during the transitional period. Make time to talk about their day and ask if they have any concerns or questions. The extra attention will make them feel more secure knowing someone cares.
What if it’s a new school?
If it’s a new school, do a walk through. Go to your child’s locker, classrooms, gym, bathrooms you name it. Getting lost is usually the biggest anxiety kids have so this should help alleviate it some.
With school starting back up, there’ll be new routines and new expectations. And this means many children will experience first day jitters. The more you can prepare a child for their first day of school, the better off they’ll do.
What can parents do to ease first day jitters?
Parents can help their child identify their anxiety. What exactly are they afraid of? Not making new friends? Not liking their teacher? Worried about school work? Once you find out the root cause, you can address your child’s fear. The first few days of school can be emotionally challenging and parents need to be sensitive to that fact. Ask questions, listen and reassure them.
Dr. Partha Nandi’s RX for first day jitters
1. Make sure your child gets enough sleep. They’ll be well-rested and ready to learn in the morning.
2. Have your child set out clothes the night before and have their backpack ready to go by the door.
3. Let your child know they’re not alone. Many other kids will also be nervous as this is a normal emotion.
4. Arrange for play dates. Reconnecting with classmates will help them feel more comfortable.
How do you know if it’s first day jitters or anxiety?
A parent knows their child best. If you feel back to school anxiety may be something more serious, such as an anxiety disorder, talk with your child, your child's teacher and the school counselor. If a child is coming home with stomachaches, headaches or frequents the nurse’s office wanting to go home, this could be signs of an emotional disorder. You should visit your pediatrician for an evaluation.