Let’s face it, come the end of June parents and children alike are ready for a break from routine; a chance to sleep a little later, loosen rigid schedules, and forget about things like homework. Fast forward to the end of August and many parents will tell you they welcome the start of school and a place for their children to put all their youthful energy to good work. If you are a parent that fully embraces the summer months (as some would argue is an essential part of childhood), let’s not forget a few important routines as our children line up for the first bell of the school year...
Downtime: One of the real benefits of summer is the chance for children to break away from the crazy schedule of a busy school day and subsequent after school activities. Consider maintaining a modest school year schedule with limited after school activities (such as one sport per season and one additional activity). Children still need downtime, a chance to play independently or without guidance, and foster their own creativity.
A good night’s sleep: The advice on teaching your child how to sleep might vary greatly, however, there is a strong consensus on how much is needed. School age children (ages 7-12 years old) should get approximately 9-11 hours per day, while younger children (ages 3-6 years old) need 10-12 hours per day (this includes nap times for those still napping). Lack of sleep has been found to have a direct correlation with poor attention, learning difficulties, and troublesome behavior. While it is easy to let the evening routine run long, be extra mindful of the amount of shuteye your budding student needs.
A little story magic: Reading with your toddler, even as little as 10 minutes a day, has a lasting influence on his/her overall reading readiness, language development, and concentration. Reading is a skill and not something we are innately born capable of. Like any skill we must practice and, in the case of our children, we must model reading behaviors.
Limit "screen time": As a parent be mindful that TVs, computers, iPhones, and iPads all fall under the umbrella of screen time. Studies have shown that while as a society we are more “connected” than ever before, our children (and many adults) feel more alone. If you haven’t already taken advantage of the many resources available on www.commonsensemedia.org (or downloaded their app for your iPhone) take a few moments to become familiar with this wonderful parent resource.
Overall the key is balance; every family must structure their home environment to meet their individual needs. That being said, use the start of the school year to reflect on your parenting practices and make adjustments you feel will benefit your entire family in the months ahead.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com