Summer is a time which symbolizes freedom for many kids. Free to play, have fun, explore hobbies, a relaxed schedule, and sleep. The downtime is great for them to recharge their bodies and creativity. Now that summer has ended, or is coming to a close, schedules and routines are being implemented again.
One very important schedule is sleep. Speaking from my own experience, we had to go back to enforcing a specific time for bed as with the extra hours of daylight my children would stay up 30 minutes to an hour past their school bedtime. Though, they had no trouble getting up early all summer. When making the adjustment to the back-to-school bedtime, my son asked why; so, I explained to him sleep is when our bodies grow and heal themselves. However, the benefits of sleep go beyond this to include better behavior and school performance, as well as decreases chance of obesity and depression. The hard part for any parent is determining how much sleep is enough. When you have a newborn or toddler, sleep is always a topic with the doctor. Though, as children grow other developments are happening with their bodies, so sleep is not forefront of conversation.
To help you understand how much sleep your child needs, I found this chart on the American Academy of Pediatrics website (retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sleep/Pages/Healthy-Sleep-Habits-How-Many-Hours-Does-Your-Child-Need.aspx).
I was surprised to see that even twelve-year-old children need up to twelve hours of sleep each night. As children age, it is easy to assume they only need the eight hours of sleep we have been told for necessary for adults. Furthermore, I was astonished to see the ten hours for high schoolers.
How do we accomplish the recommended amount of sleep for our children? Schedule, schedule, schedule. When you put the pen to paper in order to make a schedule it forces you to take a good look at everything which impacts your child’s, as well as your family’s, day and week. Since the entire family it affected by the schedule, create it as a family with your child involved in the process.
When creating your child’s daily and weekly schedules, I suggest start by blocking off the hours for school. Then, determine the necessary amount of time needed to get ready in the morning to create wake-up time, and next count backward the recommended hours to create bedtime. From this point, add the extra-curricular activities. Often, we begin with the extra-curricular activities and sleep takes the backburner versus being the driver. I found myself in this position the other day and for the sake of keeping balance, one of my child’s extra-curricular activities is going on hold for a month. This is not just the right decision in order keep our child from being overloaded, but also the right decision to not increase the stress on our household.
With older students, homework becomes a factor to the schedule. To help add homework to the schedule, there is the ten-minutes rule which states for each grade a child should have no more than ten minutes of nightly homework. For example, a first-grade student has ten minutes whereas a third grader has thirty minutes. Having a set dinner time is another important influence on the schedule as it creates at least one time of the day where the family connects together. With all we accomplish in a day, it is easy to understand how sleep is neglected.
Rip Van Winkle had it right in that we all need a good amount of rest.