Time For School. Time For Bed.

image credit: Sean Dreilinger

The weather starts to change; we return from vacation and head to the store for clothes and supplies. If you haven’t already begun, you’ll soon be starting the new school year and that means no more sleeping in. During the lingering dog days of summer, most parents don’t worry too much about bedtimes. But for both new and returning students, a bedtime routine is very important.

Here are some tips to start your (little or big) student on a back to school schedule:

  1. Start the routine about 2 weeks before the night before returning to school.
  2. Set an acceptable bedtime that is age appropriate and increase nightly in 15 minute increments.
  3. Discuss the expected bed time plan with your partner so you will be on the same page when planning with your child.
  4. Prepare your student for the new school year by discussing any concerns, worries or anxieties that you may sense they may be feeling. It is helpful for some to meet their teacher in advance. Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers usually know that students are anxious and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.

How do you know when it’s time to tuck them in? Here are recommended bedtimes for different age groups:

  • Preschoolers should get at least 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night. Adjust bedtime depending on if the child will attend morning or afternoon preschool.
  • Kindergarteners may need a few extra hours of sleep initially to help them feel rested and refreshed if they are starting a full day of classes.
  • For ages 5 to 6 year olds suggested amount is 10 to 11 hours per night.
  • Ages 7 to 18 year olds: 10 hours to 9 hours per night.
  • Teens tend to get less hours, but actually need more hours than 8 per night.

A consistent bedtime routine such as sharing a favorite book, song or prayers along with a set time is good practice. Turn off all electronics, including the TV a half hour before the planned bedtime. Maintain this consistent routine, even on weekends whenever possible. If sleep struggles persist, check with your pediatrician.

 —Kim Moerschell, M.A., L.L.P, Program Coordinator, Beaumont Parenting Program

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