It’s hard to believe that some children have already started back to school. My youngest starts back the beginning of September. Any day now we’re going to have to insist that he start to go to bed earlier and earlier. Even though he’s a teen I still feel that it’s important that he gets enough sleep. His bus comes at 6:40 AM, so he has to get up early.
When it comes to gearing up to back to school time one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do is help our kids get their “biological clocks” back on track with their school schedules. When they were younger we simply had them go to bed the same time year round. As they got older it became harder to do that. Eventually we made it so two weeks before school starts the kids had to go to bed a 1/2 hour earlier each night until their desired bedtime was reached.
As you know, getting adequate sleep is vital to doing well in school. When you are tired it’s harder to focus and concentrate. You also don’t want your child dozing off at class.
KinderCare has some fantastic tips for helping your child get back on track with their sleeping schedule, including naptime.
I like the tips. I think they can be applied to both young children and even ‘tweens and teens.
New School, New Nap Routine – Help everyone sleep well during the first few weeks back at school
Is your child starting school at KinderCare or attending other childcare?
As he adjusts to a new naptime environment and new naptime routine, you are likely to see some changes to his sleep patterns. That can be an adjustment for parents as well as children.
During those first few weeks, he may stay awake later in the evening, or conk out on the car ride home! Here are a few tips to help you handle his sleep transitions.
Give it a week or two.
- In her 21 years with KinderCare, Millie Boychuk has helped a lot of children get a good sleep at school, and helped many parents adjust their sleep patterns at home, too. Boychuk says that for most children, getting the hang of napping at school takes one to two weeks. So the first rule of transitions is to have patience!
Take note of her tired cues at home
- During those early weeks at a new school, it’s especially important to watch for your child’s individual indications of tiredness, rather than relying solely on the clock. She may be tired earlier (or later) than her usual bedtime—if she rubs her eyes, leans against your legs, or succumbs to a fit of over-tired giggles—follow her cues to bedtime.
- She should be back to a more typical napping and sleeping pattern within a few weeks.
Talk to teachers about the sleep routine
- In our infant rooms, naps are not scheduled: Each child naps according to her individual cues and need for rest. Talk to your child’s classroom teachers about what her sleep schedule looks like at school and how she likes to be soothed at rest time.
- Sharing what works at home, and learning what works at school, can help your baby find a good sleep rhythm in both places more quickly.
Adopt the class schedule
- In our toddler, preschool, and prekindergarten classrooms, nap or rest time typically begins around noon. At least initially, it might be helpful to stick to that same rest schedule when your child is at home.
Don’t have a napper? Try resting quietly
- If your child does not take naps, but is in a classroom with children who do, try taking 30-45 minutes midday to rest quietly. You could lie down together and talk calmly, read a book, cuddle, color, or do another relaxing activity.
Stock up on special blankies
- You are always welcome to bring your child’s special bunny to school, but Boychuk recommends helping her to learn to sleep without it, in case bunny is forgotten one busy morning (it happens).
- If your child sleeps with one careworn blanket or beloved stuffed animal, consider expanding her range. At home, try introducing other blankets or lovies at bedtime or naptime. You might also consider buying a second (or third) of her loved object that can live in her classroom cubby.
Slowly change bed time
- After a few weeks at school, if you might find that your child comes home consistently tuckered out, she might need an earlier bedtime. Children who are sensitive to changes in their sleep schedule or who are accustomed to rigorous routines will likely benefit from a gradual adjustment. How do you do it? Shift your child’s bedtime 10 to 15 minutes earlier and adjust her waking schedule accordingly.
…Or a little more quickly
- For older children or kids without a strict bedtime, you can employ quicker time frame. Adjust bedtime by 20 to 30 minutes each night—or every few nights—until you’ve found a bedtime that leaves him better rested throughout the day.
Consider blackout curtains
- If you don’t sew, you may not know there is actually fabric made specifically to block light. Adjusting to a new bedtime can be more difficult for children who are attuned to the sun in the sky. Blackout curtains can help by blocking those streaks of light from sneaking through little gaps in the mini-blinds, making it easier for her to fall asleep and (maybe) stay asleep later.
Sleep and school transitions can be tiring for the whole family.
- Consider putting yourself to bed early, too. Pick a favorite book and tuck yourself in. No playing Candy Crush until midnight!
These are some fantastic tips.
I completely forgot about the black out curtains. We used to have them but replaced them when we had our home on the market. I think it might be time to invest in new curtains to not only help our kids get a better nights sleep, but also my husband and I. We live in a condo complex and there are street lights in the parking lot so it’s never truly dark in our home. Maybe the blackout curtains will help us all to get more rest.
If you would like to learn more, or explore other great tips and resource, visit adventureahead.kindercare.com. I work with little children and I found a lot of fabulous ideas (games, crafts, adventures…) on the site. This is a great resource for parents, grandparents, childcare providers and teachers.
You can also check out KinderCare on social media. All of their links are found at the bottom of their website. They can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and so forth.
Do you have any special routines or tips to help get your child back on a regular sleeping routine?
Do you think your child is getting enough sleep (or not enough)?
Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.
*I have partnered with KinderCare to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in a any way.