Breaking News
More () »

CHKD parenting expert shares how to help kids transition from summer to school year schedule

As tempting as it is to soak in every last moment before school starts, an expert in Norfolk said you're better off if you start getting back on schedule early.

NORFOLK, Va. — For families with school-aged children, August is often referred to as the “Sunday of summer.”

It’s time to finish up summer reading and gather school supplies. It’s also time to get back on your school year schedule.

As tempting as it is to soak in every last moment before school starts, experts say you’re better off in the long run if you start winding down your long pool days and late movie nights a couple of weeks early.

"Summer to school transition can be challenging because it doesn’t just mean change for the kids, it means change for the parents," said Sam Fabian, a community outreach and engagement program manager with Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters (CHKD).

RELATED: Back to School: The new principals coming to schools in the 757

She said now is a great time to start setting bedtime 10 minutes earlier every few nights leading up to the first day of school.

"If the bed time is 8:00 during the summer, they’re in bed by 7:50 for a few days, then its 7:45, 7:40, until you get down to that 7:30 bedtime," Fabian explained.

She said preschoolers need 10 to 13 hours of sleep. Elementary school students need nine to 12 hours, and middle and high schoolers need eight to 10 hours. She also recommended keeping electronics out of the bedroom when it’s time to go to sleep and starting to wake your children up at their regular time.

"Go through the routine that they normally would for the morning. If they help get the breakfast going, they should be doing that," Fabian said.

Walking to the bus stop or visiting their new school will also help prepare them.

Fabian also encouraged parents not to wait until the last minute to try on clothes, because your child has likely grown over the summer.

"Everybody likes to know what is happening and what to expect and when you don’t understand, or when you’re thrown into a situation where you’ve not been given expectations or understand the game plan, you then become dysregulated, and you have the inability to learn," she said.

It’s also important to remember that all children are different in how they handle going back to school.

For Jewell Smith and her son, they never leave their school schedule.

"I have four girls and a son that is autistic," she said.

Julian is her six-year-old son she shares with her partner, Robert Higgs.

She says for children with autism, keeping the same schedule year-round is vital.

"We have to. It’s tough in the summer because he’s looking for the bus. The first couple of weeks he’s looking for the school bus, so we’re like, 'no school buddy, it’s summer break.'"

When it comes to their routine, Julian is up by 6:30 a.m. and enjoys his cereal and orange juice for breakfast. After a day of playing outside, bath time is at 7:30 p.m., and he’s in bed by 8:00 p.m.

"It hasn’t changed," Smith said.

Something else that hasn’t changed? Julian's excitement to get back to school to see his teachers.

"He’s been saying 'Miss Lindsey, Miss Ari…' He’s been saying their names, so we’re like okay a couple more weeks," Smith said laughing.

Something else Fabian recommends is taking deep breaths and acknowledging any anxiety or fears your child may have about going back to school and working through that with them.

Before You Leave, Check This Out