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Morning is undoubtedly everyone’s least favorite part of the day. After all, the bed is warm and comfortable, that stupid alarm clock makes a dreadful sound, the eyes do not easily adjust to light, and the body’s melatonin levels, the hormone that controls the human circadian rhythm, take some time to drop down.
Mornings are especially difficult for teenagers and children who need more sleep than most people. According to kidshealth.org, school-age children and pre-teens need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, while teenagers need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night (All About Sleep).
Here are some tips to start the day right for you and your kids:
- Set a firm bedtime for each of your children. Sure, it’s easier to set a general bedtime for the household, but if you have children of different ages, each one will need to go to bed at a different time. For example, if your eight-year-old needs to wake up at 7 a.m. his bedtime should be between 7 and 9 p.m. If your fifteen-year-old wakes up at 6:30 a.m. his bedtime should be between 9 and 10 p.m. You should be going to bed after your children because adults naturally need less sleep. This will allow you time to prepare for the next morning i.e., making lunches, planning breakfast, gathering/organizing school bags, picking out clothes, etc. (Tip: Set a bedtime for yourself too. It’s easier to get your kids out of bed in the morning when you have a good night’s rest.)
- Establish quiet hours before bedtime. This will help calm the children and bring a peaceful atmosphere into the home. It will also help if your children have different bedtimes because you won’t have to worry about your other children waking an early sleeper.
- Remove all electronics from the bedroom. Do not let your child go to sleep with the television on, and ask them to leave their cell phones and other PDAs in the living area. According to Jeanie Lerche Davis, author of “Good Sleep: Can It Still Be Simple?”, your body goes through four 90-minute stages throughout the night, and if your body goes through a couple of cycles each night, then you have had a good night’s sleep (Good Sleep). Electronics can disrupt a person’s sleep cycle and may never allow him to reach all four stages of sleep leaving him groggy and grumpy in the mornings.
- Wake up at least 30 minutes before your children. This time should be viewed as “alone” time for you, or you and your spouse, to prepare for the day. (Tip: You can use this time catching up on the news, preparing breakfast, making lunches, signing those endless school forms, or you can use this time to fulfill your physical, emotional, or spiritual needs such as practicing some yoga moves or simple stretching, writing in your journal or catching up on a friend’s blog, or reading the scriptures or performing other types of religious or spiritual practices.)
- Wake your children up in a very calm manner (the aforementioned should prepare you for that). Do not use the old water-in-the-face method (or any other shocking methods for that matter) of waking them up. This practice will only make their mornings even more dreadful.
- Always, always eat breakfast! And if you can, eat it together. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it can also become something your children look forward to when waking up. Of course, not everyone has time to make a gourmet breakfast each morning, but as long as you are putting something healthy and filling in your kid’s stomachs each morning then you’re golden. (Tip: An apple gives more energy to a person than a cup of coffee because it contains a sugar that releases slowly over time instead of as a quick jolt. Does an apple have more caffeine than coffee?)
With school underway, chances are your child has been assigned homework. You can’t avoid it and wish it away, even though some days you may want to! Homework is a part of your child’s overall education. It has a purpose and is more than a tedious task to be done. Homework helps to reinforce what your child learns in the classroom and promotes responsibility and discipline.
For some students, homework is completed with little struggle and may even be a joyful experience. For others however, it can be an overwhelming, hair pulling, and tearful event, leaving both child and parent exhausted and frustrated. What can you do if you find yourself in this circumstance? No, don’t throw your hands up in the air and give up! There are five simple tips you can implement at home to help make homework a positive experience.
- Have a designated, well lit place for homework.
- Make sure all the needed supplies are available such as, pencils, calculator, and a dictionary.
- Eliminate distractions. Turn off the T.V., and make the house as quiet as possible.
- Be consistent. Determine the best time for your child to do homework and stick to it.
- Be available. If your child has questions, help guide him/her to find the answer.
If you find yourself needing further assistance, there are many resources available that can help. The U.S. Department of Education has published a brochure, that can be accessed on- line, guiding parents on how they can help their child with homework. If you need to help your child at home, there is an excellent resource for that as well. WebMD’s Fit page lists tips for helping children and teens with homework and study habits.The site Refdesk.com is a reference desk that can help answer questions for most subjects. This site also lists more resources for homework help.
With a few simple changes and a little research, homework can become a success for both you and your child.
Your child spends more waking hours during the school week with his teacher than he does with you at home. That’s why it’s so important to develop and maintain a positive and open relationship with your child’s teacher. But you’re busy. The teacher’s busy. So how do you break the ice and keep things positive?
Be in communication from the get-go. Let your child’s teacher know of any concerns you have at the beginning of the year and whether or not you’re able to help out in the classroom. Find out the best way to reach the teacher, and then stay in touch by communicating throughout the school year.
Write a note to your child’s teacher. Let her know of any changes in your family situation, such as a new addition at home, someone moving out, a job loss, or other changes.
Make sure the school has your most up-to-date contact information including your cell, home, and work phone numbers. You never know when an emergency might come up or when your child’s teacher might need to contact you for some other reason.
Stay on top of grades and homework. If the teacher contacts you about missing assignments or other concerns, be sure to respond right away. A two-way communication will only benefit your child.
Let your child know that you view your relationship with his school as a partnership and that you and his teacher are there to help him — not to get him in trouble. Then be in contact with the classroom as often as possible. Even if you work away from home, you can still be in touch via phone and e-mail. Just be sure your child’s teacher knows the best way to get in touch with you and that you know the best way to get in touch with the teacher.