Kids all over Tampa Bay are clinging to the last few days of summer but as the new school year approaches parents should be thinking about how to transition their kids back into the school schedule. Easing them back into a routine will help parents and kids alike avoid the anxiety that comes along with a new year.
The key to a stress free transition is starting early. Don't wait until the first day of school to start a routine. If you start early, this will give your family time to get accustomed to the new schedule.
As school starts, establish everyone's bedtime for the school year and implement them with a wind down period one-hour before their bedtime. The wind down time is a perfect time to pack book bags, make lunches, turn off electronics and settle in for the night. It will also ease the morning rush if everything is prepared. Keeping the house quiet and calm during wind down time will also ease the transition into bedtime.
Making sure your kids are getting enough sleep is very important. On average, school-aged children need at least 9-hours of rest. Any less, and they'll be tired during the school day, making learning and retention almost impossible. Here's a bedtime chart to use as guidance when establishing bedtimes in your home.
0 – 2 years of age: 7:00pm
3 – 5 years of age: 8:00pm
6 – 8 years of age: 8:30pm
9 – 12 years of age: 9:00 pm
12- 15 years of age: 9:30pm
15+ years of age: (Your child, by this age, should be able to decide when they need to go to sleep and prioritize their after school responsibilities accordingly.)
Morning time should only be for getting ready. Doing anything more (like packing bags, making lunches, finishing homework, etc.) will make morning stressful for kids and parents alike. Once your kids are in grade school try giving them each there own alarm clock, making each one responsible for getting up and dressed for the day without mom or dad.
Eating a healthy breakfast will also energize the kids for the first half of the day. Families often resort to cereals or other quick fixes that are high in sugar and have little or no nutritional value. Here are some fun, simple breakfast ideas for school days that involve little or no prep.
Most of your kids will have homework on a daily basis and encouraging them to complete it right when they get home will leave the late afternoon and early evening for play time, bath time and family time. When the kids get home, snack time is the perfect opportunity for you to sit with them, talk about the day and what they learned as well as give them a short break before heading into homework. Giving too long of a break between snack and homework time might cause your kids to lose focus making it more difficult to complete homework later in the evening.
Their homework will hopefully be assigned to re-enforce what was learned earlier in the day. Find a quiet, well-lit area of the house where everyone can sit together to do homework. If you have older children, they can be the designated homework helper for your little ones. Of course, mom or dad is always around to answer questions but allowing your teens to take a leadership role will instill confidence in them.
After school activities are also a fun, great way for kids to learn new things outside of the classroom and make new friends during the week. Discuss with your kids what sort of activities they might be interested in doing after school (karate, performing arts, etc.) and find one day a week where afternoon time includes these activities. If any of the activities involve and change of clothes or other prep work, make sure its done the night before and loaded into the car. You can find a full list of after school programs and classes online that might interest your kids at TBParenting.com .
The new school year is an exciting time to start fresh and learn new things. Creating a schedule that everyone can follow will help create a regimented and consistent school schedule.
And don't forget, this Saturday is the Back to School Fair, a day to prepare, protect, educate and inspire families for the upcoming school year! The annual event on August 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature live entertainment, informational speaker sessions, games, arts & crafts, face painting, balloon artist, workshops and a whole bunch of fun! And to top it off, the state-of-the-art Glazer Children's Museum, located at 110 West Gasparilla Plaza in downtown Tampa, will host the event. Fair goers will enjoy the entire museum and fair for only $5 per person and the first 150 kids will receive a tote bag filled with Back to School supplies and other goodies. Museum Members are free!