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Starting a new school routine can be stressful for kids of all ages. While they might be able to wake up and sleep on their own schedule during the summer, they’ll be required to be awake and active during school. It can take some time to acclimate to a new routine. But there are ways that you can help your children adjust to a new school schedule.

Start Your Routine Before School Begins

Unless you have a last-minute road trip planned, begin your new routine in advance of the school year. Start having your children wake up and go to bed at their new times before they need to. This way, you can ease into it over the course of a couple of weeks. By doing this before the school year begins, you won’t need to worry about it on top of the other stressors that the start of the school year brings.

Listen to Your Child’s Concerns and Questions

The average four-year-old asks 437 questions a day. At the beginning of the school year, many of those questions will be about what’s going to happen next? They might be scared or confused, so it is important that you explain the new routine and answer any questions they might have. If they get their information from you, they’re more likely to trust it and feel comfortable moving forward. This is true of older children as well. While your middle or high school student might not show their fear, they might need your reassurance as well. So make sure that you communicate with them about how the school year is going to go.

Set Morning and Evening Routines

According to the experts at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics, middle and high school students shouldn’t begin school until after 8:30 AM. This is meant to provide enough time for proper sleep, which promotes learning. However, many schools start earlier, meaning students are often groggy and underprepared. By setting a regular morning and evening routine with your child, you promote smooth transitions between sleep and wakefulness. So even if you can’t change the time school starts, you can do your best to ensure that your child gets as much sleep as possible and is still ready to handle the school day.

Avoid Sugary Snacks Before Bed

Sugary snacks are delicious and are a common dessert. However, you should make sure your child doesn’t eat that dessert too close to bedtime. Eating sugar too close to bedtime can keep them from falling asleep quickly. Also, if they are among the four million people in the U.S. that currently wear braces, they might also need to spend extra time cleaning their teeth, which can interfere with their nighttime routine. So make sure that all sugary snacks are consumed well in advance of bedtime.

Provide a Relaxing Environment at Night

A relaxing environment makes it easier to fall asleep. So make sure that both your child’s bedroom and the rest of your home are quiet and comforting as bedtime approaches. Before bed, avoid screen time and spend some time together as a family. This could mean playing a game or it might mean reading quietly. Likewise, your child should not have screens in their room at bedtime. If your child is irritated by noise or light, buy a white noise machine or heavy curtains. There are many ways to inexpensively provide an environment that promotes rest and sleep in your child’s bedroom.

Solid sleep and support from parents make it much easier for children to adjust to a new school schedule. So make sure that you communicate with your child and do your best to make things easy for them. This will make the transition as smooth as possible.