The start of school is just around the corner for the Bend-Lapine and Redmond school districts (and maybe for you homeschoolers too!). This is the first of three blog posts on getting ready to head back to school. It’s hard to come back from the free-for-all that is summer break. Families are traveling. School year limits on sleep and screen time and meals go out the window in favor of long days, vacations, and time with friends.
Poor or insufficient sleep can have significant effects on school performance. Many of us (myself included) let our children stay up later during the summer months, but as school starts back, it’s important to get back to that regular bedtime. While children’s sleep requirements vary a bit, a good rule of thumb is that elementary school kids require around 9 to 12 hours per night, and middle school or high school students usually need 8 to 10 hours. Figure out what time they need to wake up in the morning and work back to figure out their bedtime. Don’t forget that BLP has adjusted school start times this year: 1 hour later for middle and high school and 1 hour earlier for elementary schools. Too ease the transition to the new bedtime, try shifting by 15-30 minutes every night over the next few weeks. Don't forget to start back into that regular bedtime routine! The regular nighttime ritual is important in helping the brain to settle down and get ready for sleep.
The flickering blue light of computer screens keeps the brain stimulated longer than intended and can make it hard to settle down and fall asleep at night. Long days at home can result in screen time limits flying out the window. Start limiting your child’s time in front of computers, cellphones, and tablets as back-to-school season approaches, especially in the 2 hours leading up to bedtime. Replace that screen time with physical activity. Exercise supports overall physical and mental well-being and helps kids stay alert and focused when they get back to class
Healthy eating is also crucial for a successful school year. Make sure that your child’s eating habits are back on track before the new school year starts by reintroducing healthier meals and making them aware of the benefits of nutritious options so they can start making better choices on their own. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are important parts of a healthy diet. Make sure your child has a water bottle that they are emptying and refilling (with water) throughout the day. If you have questions about your child’s diet or weight, talk to their doctor.