Fall is quickly approaching and summer will soon be over.
Many children are looking forward to fall and the first day of preschool or kindergarten. Some older kids are excited to get back to school to see their friends and teachers; others are dreading the thought.
But for anyone preparing to go back to school, there is sure to be a big change in routine.
In many households, the biggest adjustment from summer to fall is during the morning and evening routines. During the summer, children may stay up past their usual bedtimes and enjoy sleeping later in the morning. Mornings can be much more relaxed without the rush to get ready for school.
You can help make the first day of school easier by gradually making the transition back to a more consistent fall routine.
Start by moving both bedtime and wake-up time 15 minutes earlier. Allow a few days to adjust, and then move another 15 minutes. Continue this pattern until your child is waking and going to bed at the times needed for the school year.
When setting bedtimes, keep in mind that the general recommendation is for children aged five to 10 to get about 10-11 hours of sleep each night, and children 11-17 need about eight to10 hours. Of course, this varies from child to child, but it is a good guideline to follow.
Once sleeping times have been adjusted, start working on the morning routine that you will follow during the school year.
If mornings are especially hectic in your household, it might be helpful to have a chart on the fridge or in children’s rooms with the morning plan. A small whiteboard works really well for keeping track of the daily routine as well as leaving room to add reminder notes.
If you can practise your morning routine for the last week of summer holidays, everyone can start forming good habits while also having a fun countdown to the first day of school.
For young school-agers, the morning plan should leave nothing to chance. List all self-care steps needed, such as brushing teeth and getting dressed. Include household responsibilities like making the bed and tidying up after him or herself in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.
There should also be a list of what will be required for school that day — books, homework, lunch, and so on. It is the child’s responsibility to make sure everything is in the backpack and ready to go.
Throughout the morning, perform a couple of "quality control" checks to be sure your child is following through with the plan.
The start of a new school year can be both exciting and exhausting for children. By having a comfortable routine in place beforehand, you can make the transition from summer to school a little easier on everyone.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 23, 2012