Sunday, July 29, 2012

Back to School To-Do List - Sleep!

It never fails, July 4th comes and my efforts turn to squeezing every last bit of fun from summer, while still trying to balance the enthusiasm that comes with preparing for the start of a new school year and Kindermusik semester. 

My next few blog posts will provide insights for parents that will allow children the best opportunity to transition to the school year or Kindermusik semester. Stores have begun to set up aisles and aisles of back to school shopping, so I'll let Madison Avenue take care of that arena; my Back to School To-Do List has nothing to do with shopping...

Start your day when you will start your day..
Proper sleep will set your child off on the right foot.  Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein of Harvard, Harvard Medical School's Division of Sleep Medicine tells us that sleep deprivation is closely connected to mood, anxiety, depression, memory loss and judgement and cognition. The Mayo Clinic reports a link to weight gain, as well.  

If your child is excited to be returning to school, the excitement may carry him or her, but it is likely the other shoe will drop at some point and this information will be important.  On the other hand, if your child is meeting the idea of returning (or going for the first time) to school with trepidation this is BIG stuff.

You read it right --- 11ish hours!

Dr. Kevin Smith, a sleep specialist with Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinicswarns parents not to wait until the night before school starts to adjust their child's bedtime. "The longer the child has to do this, the easier it is. I recommend starting a couple weeks before school.."

Here are some tips to begin the adjustment:
  • Start now!
  • Move dinner time to the time it will be during school.
  • Begin by adjusting the wake up time, then adjust the times in small increments - 15 minutes earlier to bed and wake 15 minutes earlier.
  • Reducing your child's exposure to light. Dr. Smith says, "Light affects our body and our sleep-wake cycles. Exposure to light late in the evening can delay our body's ability to fall asleep." Smith urges parents to have their kids come inside earlier and decrease their exposure to bright lights and light from the screens of electronics such as television, cell phone or computer 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime.  
I'd love to stand on my soapbox and tell you my children do not have TVs in their rooms and that everyone reads themselves to bed every night, but that would be a BIG, FAT LIE.  Falling asleep sans TV takes a great deal of effort on behalf of parents and kids.  But I'm committed to giving it a try - How about you?  
Frindle by Andrew Clements

Turning off the screens gives us a great opportunity to read together. My girls share a room so it's three birds with one stone here.  Their ages are 11, 9, & 6.  Our nightly read aloud is going to be Frindle by Andrew Clements. 

Winning by Gary Brackett

My son is 13 and can read us all under the table - it's his favorite pastime. Bip, Larry and I will begin reading Gary Brackett's Winning: From Walk-On to Captain in Football and Life together.

It's your turn to chime in.  What will you read to your kiddos to skip the TV before bed? List the Book Title and the age of your child in a comment below.

Everyone who responds will be entered into a drawing to win $25 worth of free book picks at the next Scholastic Book Fair Oct 1-12. Winner will be drawn Sept 3.