With the days getting shorter and signs of summer’s end drawing near, parents are already starting to think about how to transition back to the school-year routine. Since the summer of 2020 was essentially a bust due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer of 2021 was one where we got out and about, cramming in as many fun activities as we could. And while it was all fun and worth every ounce of energy we put towards it; now we need to prepare to switch gears and get the kids ready for school.
So, how do parents start now to switch up the routine to ensure a transition that is as easy as possible?
How to Ease Your Child into Their Back-to-school Routine
1. Move up bedtime.
One of the most subtle ways of getting your kid ready for the school year comes by nudging up bedtime little by little. For example, if your child had a bedtime of 10 p.m. throughout the summer and you want to get back to 9 p.m. or earlier for younger kids to ensure your child gets the amount of sleep that they need, start by moving bedtime up ten minutes at a time. Many parents find that moving up bedtime by ten to 15 minutes per week for the few weeks before school starts is far easier than making a bigger leap all at once.
Seven- to 12-year-olds need 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night, and three- to six-year-olds need 10 to 12 hours. That’s a lot of sleep to ensure a successful day. So, start making that bedtime earlier and earlier based on the time your child will need to wake up each morning.
2. Move up wake-up time.
Just as you might need to move up that bedtime to help ensure your child gets enough sleep, you might also need to move up the wake-up time to ensure your child has enough time to get ready for the school day. Don’t expect your child to get right back into the routine on the first day of school. It can take a bit to get back into the daily grind. So, a week or two before the school year begins, start waking your child up a bit earlier. If possible, move up the wake-up time to coincide with their earlier bedtime. Doing so will help ensure those mornings aren’t too hectic and that the entire family has enough time to prepare for their day.
3. Ensure your child gets plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables.
The USDA suggests that we get somewhere between five and nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. And the team at Tomasik Family Dental agrees. Not only do fruits and vegetables help with memory and concentration (helpful to have especially during the school year), but these foods are better for your teeth too.
Instead of sweets, soda, and other sugary snacks, fill the crisper drawer with blueberries, broccoli, and oranges — foods good for the brain and teeth. Apples, carrots, and celery also serve as natural toothbrushes and make our list of approved summer treats. After all, protecting your child’s smile from a sweet tooth is always a good idea.
Finally, remind your child of the importance of brushing their teeth twice a day (especially after meals), flossing once per day to loosen any food particles that may have become lodged between the teeth, and rinsing with a fluoridated mouthwash.
4. Decrease screen time.
Though we encourage kids to get outside and play as much as possible during the summer, we know that kids also love their screen time. But too much of it can wreak havoc on your child’s concentration, not to mention strain their vision. So if your child has been getting a bit more screen time each day than you might desire, now is the time to start cutting it back.
Too much screen time can have detrimental effects such as the following:
- Problems sleeping
- Lower academic grades
- Reading fewer books
- Not enough outdoor or physical activity
- Poor self-image or body image issues
To help reduce the amount of time that your child spends on the screen, start by conducting an informal inventory of how much time your child spends doing various activities. Consider more than just their time on a screen too. Look at all activities including the computer, television, video games, pretend play, reading books, getting outside to play, doing craft projects, playing organized sports, etc.
Next, start changing the balance of time that your child spends on screen-related activities vs. other activities. For example, if your child is spending three hours on the screen each day and only one hour on all other non-screen activities, start reducing the screen time by 15 minutes a day and increasing the amount of time spent on other activities by the same amount. Keep making the change until you get to a balance that feels good to you and your child.
5. Fill your remaining days and weeks with much-needed family time.
With the school year quickly approaching, now is a great time to encourage some remaining family activities. Though any time you can spend with your child is a plus, summer provides a great opportunity to strengthen your connection with your kids. So be sure to set aside some time to give your child your undivided attention. Write down activities that you have enjoyed in the past and brainstorm together on some new ones. Check a few off your list and then pocket those remaining ideas away for a rainy day later in the year.
Help your child start the school year off with a bright and shiny smile.
If your child is due for a dental cleaning, now is the time to request an appointment. Preventive dental care such as cleaning can help brighten and whiten your child’s teeth. Not only will they feel better about their smile and feel a boost to their self-confidence, but you as a parent can also relax knowing that their child’s mouth is healthy and ready for the school year.