Monday, January 11, 2010

A Fresh Start in 2010

Tips for starting the year with positive energy and attitudes towards learning

1. Set up a new bedtime ritual or reestablish a tried-and-true one to make sure your child gets that all-important ZZzz time.

Fun bedtime routine ideas:

  • Read or tell a story at the kitchen table while drinking herbal tea (obviously without caffeine) or warm milk (the tryptophan in the milk behaves as a natural sedative). This activity gives kids a chance to wind down before hitting the sheets.
  • Sing a favorite prayer, or take turns singing made-up prayers, to the tune of a mellow familiar song, such as "Taps."
  • Play quiet, relaxing music in the bedroom during story time (CDs specifically designed for this purpose are available at stores such as Bed Bath and Beyond). Allow the CD to continue playing after the story and nighttime hugs.

Remember that later bedtimes during vacation and anxiety keep lots of kids tossing and turning the night before they go back to school. It's completely normal and nothing to worry about. Here's the Key: Once the light goes out and you say good night, the light stays out, and your child must stay in bed. Within 2 or 3 days, your child should get used to the new or reestablished bedtime habits as long as you are consistent.

2. Set clothes out and get the backpack in ship shape (or have homeschooling kids clean and sort out their work area) the night before stepping back into the academic routine. Hint: sometimes new tokens, something as simple as a new eraser or a colorful pencil, will get kids excited about returning to learning.

3. Keep the first several days back to school as free as possible of appointments and extra curricular activities while your child readjusts to homework routines and sleeping hours.

4. The afternoon of the first day back, make sure to ask your child specific questions. Ask about activities in different subject areas, which buddies played what games at recess, the favorite lunch item of the day ... you get the idea.

This will maintain an open dialog between you and your grade schooler. Not only will you get more detailed answers to "What did you do at school today?" or "What did you learn today?" but you will keep communication open, an absolute MUST to getting to the bottom of problems that may arise in the future. Besides, establishing a pattern of communication now will be a big help when your kids hit middle school. Honest!