Welcome to the FIRST blog post!
This is an exciting adventure to say the least. One that I have had on my 'things to do list' for ages but never got around to plugging away. I certainly have a lot to say. As an educator, school administrator, clinician (child behaviour and developmental therapist), and mother of 4 boys, I am consistently asked for parenting advice, my opinion on educational matters, and I always find myself having clinical discussions in the most unusal places, often times while multi-tasking.
Starting this blog was not only appropriate but also an excellent forum to share my experiences and expertise with other moms, educators and administrators alike. I hope you find topics useful and informative. Thank you for taking time to read my entries and check back monthly for new topics.
ROUTINES: THE WELL-RESTED STUDENT
Going back to school after a 2-week hiatus after the winter holidays, involves a lot of planning and preparation. One of the most critical ingredients to a successful upcoming term is improving organizational skills and routines. It all starts with a well-rested child.
A good evening routine despite the students’ age is critical. Students will be more alert and ready for learning if they get a good nights sleep. Developing this habit takes the whole family to commit to establishing and enforcing routines. Here are a few reminders:
(1) Establish the amount of sleep necessary. Start with the wake up time and count backwards. Preschool Kids, (1-3 years of age) need about 12-14 hours, kids in JK-SK (3-5 years of age) need about 11-13 hours while kids in grade 1-5 (5-10 years of age) need about 10-11 hours of sleep, kids in grade 6-9 ( 10-13 years of age) need about 8-9 hours of sleep.
(2) Develop good resting habits. Kids need to rest their minds (especially from technology such as computers, Ipads, TV and video games) at least 30 minutes to 1-hour before bedtime as a winding down process for their minds. This is a good time to unplug and read a book, practice yoga, meditate, and listen to calming music, exercise, or simply doing anything that calms the mind and body. At this time a healthy bedtime snack and drink is likely a good idea as it will be part of the procrastination strategy used for kids avoiding early bed routines. (Healthy choices are a whole other blog conversation, however the ultimate message is to pick something nutritious).
(3) Then plug in personal hygiene routines into the mix and determine how much realistic time is required for bathing/showering, brushing/flossing teeth and changing into bedtime clothes.
(4) Begin adding together the time necessary to realistically accomplish step #2 and #3, and that value is the start of the bedtime routine. Now that you have determined the right hour for bedtime, its either realizing that you are on target with the bedtime routines or you need to overhaul your process.
Starting a new term and a new year is a great time for new beginnings and to get kids to buy into the NEW bedtime process. Most importantly give kids the tools they need to buy into this newly established norm by communicating with them when bedtime routines start and always give friendly reminders when they end. I like to give the 30 min, 15 min, 10 min, and 5 min countdown as respectful ways for kids to get ready and to teach them (through natural consequences) to make wise choices for how they spend their evenings.
This process takes time and it may take days or weeks to get kids to realize they have to learn to make better choices in how they spend their time before bedtime. It also takes the parent(s) time to become efficient at getting things organized in a timely manner like meals and homework.
Plugging in extracurricular programs in the evenings into this mix is also a whole other blog post but a valuable one especially with the older child in REP sports or clubs. There is a sane way to manage it all. It takes a WHOLE lot of planning and organizing on the parent(s) part at first, but it is totally doable and well worth the planning in the long run.
There are many benefits of a structured bedtime routines for kids and equally for the parents sanity. It is an important element to a smooth running family and beneficial for student learning at school the next day!