The Sleep Coach shares her tips to ensure that the transition from pre-school to school goes smoothly.
Suddenly these little ones are faced with a defined schedule and will need to sit for longer periods than they are used to and adhere to a stricter daily schedule. This comes after a long holiday where routines have been relaxed for many children.
The most important thing is to get back into a routine and work on getting your children to sleep early so that you both have enough sleep to fully function and concentrate during the day.
Consistent Sleep Time Routine
1. Decide if your child is going to eat early or a little later with the family.
You don’t want your child eating too early, as they will be hungry before bed, or too late, as they will feel uncomfortable.
2. Play outside before dinner or bath time Ensuring a good sleep routine starts in the late afternoon when your children should be playing outside. This has to do with the length of the waves of sunlight, the long waves of sunlight, dusk triggers the production of Melatonin - the sleep hormone. So, after your child has played outside, it’s either dinner or bath time.
3. 15 minutes of Quiet time in bed. This should be in their bedroom. Read, play gentle music and then tuck your child in, kiss and cuddle good night and leave. Make sure that your child is completely ready for bed. E.g your child has been to the toilet, had a drink of water, brushed teeth
4. Your school aged child should fall asleep in the dark. Falling asleep in the dark is very important as it helps promote the production of Melatonin, the hormone that helps get us to sleep.
Get prepared the night before
A stress-free morning starts with an organised evening routine.
Check the school timetable with your child. When your children are involved in this step, you encourage them to develop responsibility for their possessions and time management.
Together, you can put a checklist of what you need to prepare the night before which might include:
School uniform (shoes, socks, sports uniform etc.)
Packed lunches - make any sandwiches and prepare all food so it’s ready to go
Sign any letters or paperwork for the school
Pack the school bag
After school activity clothes
Get up early Ensure that everyone wakes up with more than enough time to get everything done so work out how much time you may need and then add on another 20 minutes.
Plan breakfast Most children are easier to feed if they are given only two options. A great idea is to have breakfast before getting dressed to avoid last-minute messes, which may need a change of uniform. Some children don’t feel hungry at home, then become ravenous on the way to school. If that’s the case, you could give them a sandwich, cereal bar or perhaps some fresh fruit to take with them so they have something to eat before school starts.
Getting dressed is a time-consuming task for primary school children, who are often easily distracted by other far more interesting activities. Allow additional time for this.
Cheryl Fingleson, children’s sleep consultant