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Establishing a Back to School Bedtime

Child in bed with covers up to her nose

​​​​This information is included in our Guide to Back to School. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

By Kent Amstutz, D.O., Boys Town Pediatrics

Summer break is a fun and busy time for young children. Youngsters sometimes play long into the evening, and often don't have a set bedtime during the summer months.

So when summer draws to a close and it's time for school to begin again, parents may find it difficult to establish a bedtime routine for their little night owl.

If you are parent who is facing this challenge, Boys Town Pediatrics® has a few helpful tips that can ease your child's transition from summer vacation to going back to school.

Start setting boundaries early. About a month before the first day of school, set a bedtime and wake-up time. Then gradually (once a week) move these times back 15 minutes until you reach the bedtime and wake-up times you want your child to follow when school starts.

Get your child used to morning activities. Plan your final summer activities in the mornings and early afternoons. Putting more emphasis on the mornings will help your child become accustomed to doing most of his or her activities during the day (which is what will happen during a school day) rather than at night.

Create and maintain a consistent routine. Stay consistent with bedtimes and wake-up times, even on the weekends. This will help children make a smoother adjustment to their new school schedule.

Boys Town Pediatrics recommends that elementary school students should get 10 to 12 hours of ​sleep each night. Pre-teens through high school-age youth need 9 to 11 hours. These guidelines will vary for individual children, but making sure your child gets enough sleep is one of the best things you can do to ensure he or she will be attentive in class, have energy for the school day and ​maintain good physical health.

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