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Home Routines Can Help Your Child in School

As the new school year approaches, it’s important to help your child develop key routines at home. These routines will lead to good habits. They will help kids get off to a good start in school and throughout the year.

Solid routines help kids get enough sleep, get off to a good start each morning and finish their homework every day.

Bedtime Routine

Studies show that not enough sleep leads to lower academic results in middle school, high school and college. It also leads to more absences and lateness. Younger children (3-12) need 10-12 hours of sleep per night and adolescents (13-18) need 9-10 hours per night.

Here are some ways to get your kids into a bedtime routine that will help them at school:

Gradually go to bed earlier. During the summer, kids tend to stay up later and get up later. Help them get ready for their new wakeup time by gradually having them go to bed earlier and wake up earlier in the final weeks before school starts. In the final few days, get them up at the time your family will be getting up for school.

Follow a regular schedule. Put your child to bed at the same time every night. Having a routine will help your child settle down and fall asleep. The bedtime routine could include a bath or shower, reading with them, tucking them in and saying good night. Getting into a nightly routine will make it easier on the whole family.

Set time limits. Setting a time limit is a good way to put a boundary on the winding down time kids need each night. When kids know what the limits are ahead of time, it reduces whining and stress.

Turn off electronic devices. Make sure they’re off well before bedtime. Learn the importance of limiting media time.

Keep it quiet. Try to have your home as quiet and calm as possible when children are trying to fall asleep.

Morning Routine

A good morning routine is crucial to having your child prepared for school every day. Here are a few tips for getting the day started off right:

Discuss changes. As the school year approaches, talk to your kids about what their morning routine will look like. That’s important because it will get them thinking ahead and help them understand what to expect.

Set a time schedule. Have a planned schedule for the morning. Being organized will keep your child on time and reduce stress. Make sure your schedule builds in plenty of time for a good breakfast and personal care.

Eat breakfast. It’s important for kids to eat breakfast every day. Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast have more energy and better concentration. They are more prepared for school and do better. Try to eat as a family.

Develop nutritious habits. Try to get your kids in the habit of eating nutritious items such as fruits, oatmeal or whole-grain cereals for breakfast. A smoothie can also be a nutritious and fun breakfast item; blend some frozen berries with a banana and low-sugar yogurt. Peanut butter on whole-grain toast provides a high-protein boost. Get more tips for helping children develop good eating habits.

Homework Routine

Use these tips to help your child get ready to do homework every day:

Set up a study area. It’s important for kids to have a quiet, safe place at home where they can study and complete homework. Before the school year starts, have your child spend time in this area doing fun learning activities. That will help them get comfortable in the space.

Schedule time for homework every day. This will let your child know that homework is a daily part of being a student. Keep in mind that it’s also important for kids to have play time and physical activity every day. Build in time for that, too.

Limit electronics. Have a rule that TV and other electronic items stay off during homework time. Supervise computer and internet use.

Make healthy snacks available. Before they sit down to do their homework, children can use a healthy snack. This will help keep their energy up and help them focus.

Be positive and encourage your child. Let your child know that you understand the hard work they are putting in. Give them plenty of positive feedback for getting their homework done. Learn about the benefits of safe, healthy and positive afterschool time.

Additional Resources

Help keep kids’ attendance up in the new school year (video).

Get more back-to-school tips.

Find good ideas for improving your family’s health with the Small Starts for Families tool from Healthier Tennessee.

Help your child be healthy and alert at school.