It was wonderful to see so many of you here tonight for our Ice Cream Social! I am very excited about the new school year. The teachers and I are eager to partner with you to fulfill our Mission of:
Faith in Christ
Strength in Community
Excellence in Education
Joy in Service
Here are some tips for you as we begin the first week of school.
Kids Off Schedule?
10 Tips for Back-to-School Sleep
(by Dr. Kathleen M. Berchelmann, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine and Pediatric Hospitalist, St. Louis Children's Hospital)
Sleep helps kids do well in school, improves social functioning, prevents illness and injuries, and even prevents obesity. Here are 10 tips for back-to-school sleep:
1) Pick your strategy: cold turkey or gradual bedtime change? I admit it-- it’s just easier to go cold turkey and set a really loud alarm on the first day of school, especially for teens and tweens. The problem with this approach (besides a painful morning and sleepy child) is that your child's body will demand catch-up sleep. Unless they start going to bed earlier, your kids will need to sleep in on the weekend. If you do go cold-turkey, make a commitment to early bedtimes during the first week of school.
Gradual bedtime changes are hard to implement, but they allow your children’s circadian rhythms to adjust, and your child will have healthier, higher quality sleep. Your child will be able to enjoy the first week of school, too, instead of living in a sleep-deprived fog.
Do your kids struggle to get out of bed in the morning? Teach them to say a morning offering when they wake up and ask God for the fortitude to get out of bed.
2) Calculate your child’s sleep needs: Children’s sleep needs change with age, so check out this sleep chart by my colleague Dr. Kelly Ross and figure out how much sleep your child needs:
1-4 Weeks Old, 15-16 hours
1-12 Months Old, 14-15 hours
1-3 Years Old, 12-14 hours
3-6 Years Old, 10-12 hours
7-12 Years Old, 10—11 hours
12-18 Years Old, 8-9 hours
Adults, 7-8.5 hoursThese are averages, and every child is different, so you may want to add time if your child is a sleep-lover or in a growth spurt.
3) Set your wake-up time and bedtime: For most of us, it is easier to stick to a consistent wake-up time and harder to get to bed on time. Calculate your goal bedtime based on your child’s sleep needs and wake-up time, and think hard about what obstacles are in the way of bedtime.
Schedule family prayer time in the morning and at bedtime. If your mornings are rushed, consider praying together in the car on the way to school, or over breakfast.
4) Set a bedtime for your screens, too: Screen time before bed prolongs “sleep latency,” or the time it takes to fall asleep. So your screens need a bedtime, too, at least ninety minutes before your child’s bedtime (I prefer two hours). Set an alarm on your phone or tablet for your screen’s “bedtime.” Pick a common spot to charge up your screens overnight. This makes it easier for you, as a parent, to check that all screens are off and out of kids’ bedrooms at least 90 minutes before bedtime.
5) Write out your afternoon schedule: The trick to getting to bed on time is an afternoon schedule. Most children only have about 4 hours each day between school and bedtime. This time is valuable. Have a schedule for homework, extracurriculars, practicing, bathing, and unstructured playtime.
6) Exercise: What is your child’s primary form of exercise during the school year? Can you get started early? Exercise helps kids sleep well, and sleep improves athletic performance. Avoid exercise in the 2 hour window before bed.
7) Get rid of chemical stimulants: Caffeine, energy drinks, snd chocolate interfere with sleep. Some “health” and energy drinks contain elusive amounts of caffeine, so be careful as to what your children are drinking and read labels.
8) Refill your child’s medications: ADHD medications, antidepressants, and other common pediatric drugs can alter sleep. Be sure your child is taking their prescription at the right time of day and isn’t missing doses.
9) Let melatonin work: Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your brain that triggers that sleepy, I-can’t-keep-my-eyes-open feeling. Light exposure reduces melatonin production, including blue light from LED screens. Dim lights and pull shades to darken your home at least 30 minutes before your child’s bedtime. The darkness will trigger a surge of melatonin that will make bedtime much easier.
10) Don’t skip the bedtime story, even for big kids: Reading aloud to children is crucial for vocabulary development and literacy success. Children need to hear words to be able to learn to read well. Turn off the bedroom lights, use a clip-on reading light, and read and sing to your kids while they drift off to sleep.
A Parent's Prayer for Students
As my children leave for school,
I pray that you will keep them in your care.
Send your Spirit to open their minds
to all that is true and beautiful and good.
Help them to see the gifts and talents
you have given them and to use them well.
Help them to grow in knowledge and wisdom.
Help them to be kind to others
and lead others to be kind to them.
Give their teachers patience and understanding
and help them teach what is just and true.
Send your angels to guide and guard my children
and to keep them from all harm.
Open their young hearts to your presence
and enfold them in your peace and protection.
Hold them in the palm of your hand
and bring them home safely at day's end.
Have a blessed week and school year!