Back to school season is a great time to set up some new schedules for your kids, and if getting the kids up early for school seems to be the biggest challenge of the day, it might be time to try a new approach. A new schedule and calendar can be overwhelming, especially for kids who have just enrolled at a new place, or are attending school for the first time. If you need some help getting the family organized, here are six strategies for getting kids up early for school:
1. Program alarm clocks right after dinner. This is a great habit to get kids thinking about the next day, and will help them to get on track for a consistent schedule. Pick up something with their favorite characters so they’re more likely to use it; then make sure everyone has their alarm set at the same time each night so you won’t forget. Older kids can still do this as they get dressed for bedtime.
2. Encourage early risers with a special treat. You can let the first one up choose the breakfast menu, or maybe just make their favorite breakfast. Encouraging good behavior with incentives is a great way to make a habit stick; just pick something that you can keep up with-unless you’re an early riser yourself, homemade cinnamon rolls with the works might be better for weekends.
3. Avoid junk food after dinner. Sugary snacks and other processed foods can keep kids awake far beyond bedtime, and if they start to sleep late, they’re much more likely to wake up groggy or sleep in. Encourage healthy eating habits throughout the day so they can enjoy a good night’s rest.
4. Cut out caffeine after 2 p.m. Just like adults, kids can be reactive to caffeine and sugar for the rest of the day; restlessness and agitation are surefire signs that they’ve had too much, and it will be much harder for them to get some solid sleep. Encourage healthy snacks, especially fruit, for steady energy.
5. Create one fun activity each morning. Kids that are eager to do something in the morning are much more likely to get up earlier to take part in it-explains the eager eyes on Christmas morning phenomena. Think of a game or even a special time at the breakfast table that encourages everyone to get together before the day starts. It’s great bonding time, and will help put everyone in a positive mindset.
6. Reward good behavior. Create a tally or chart of ‘start times’ for each child and track their progress throughout the week. You can post this in a visible location so that everyone can see each other’s start times; this provides a little competition and an incentive to beat their record. You may find them getting up earlier and earlier as the weeks go by!
Getting the semester off to a good start usually involves a new routine; try any of these six strategies to ensure a good night’s rest, time for breakfast, and an easy transition to the school bus. After just a few weeks, the routine is likely to stick and will leave everyone much less stressed!