The school year is well under way and as the kids return from Christmas break, it's a good time to review how their school routine and habits may be affecting them as they head into the winter leg. Parents may notice children are short tempered or irritable by evening time or are experiencing a return of tantrums. They're trying to cope with the new structure to their day. Routine and habits can help ease them back in to their new routine, both at home and in school. Here are 8 ways to create a healthy back to school routine from making time to talk to getting a decent night's sleep.
8 Ways to Create a Healthy Back to School Routine
Looking to create a healthy back to school routine for the family? Things like sleep, playtime, talking, healthy eating are so important. Here are some ways to make sure the kids have a fun, positive day both at school and at home.
1. Pack a Healthy Lunch
Pack a healthy lunch. Little brains need good fuel to get them through the day. Along with getting enough sleep, a healthy diet is key to warding off all the winter ‘bugs’ that will be milling around classrooms these months. If you're after some inspiration, be sure to take a look at healthy lunchbox ideas for kids and creative back to school lunch ideas.
2. Wind Down After School
Both primary and secondary children put in a long day these days. Although the actual classroom hours may be relatively short, for many the day is extended by homework, after school care or extra-curricular activities. Just like adults, children need to wind down after a day at school. A healthy snack and half an hour play time, immediately after coming home, can diffuse the situation and allow them to cope better until bedtime.
3. Have Play Time & Exercise
Th school environment can be rigid - especially in secondary school and children often lack simple free time. Think about how many unstructured hours your children are getting during the week. Children need to simply play. Teens may need time to just listen to music, talk to their friends or exercise. It's tempting to fill after school hours with grinds or lessons. While these have their benefits, children should not be overburdened with a full adult’s work day.
4. Limit Screen Time
If you're trying to create a healthy back to school routine, try to limit screen time or computer games. Limiting these games has been shown to improve concentration levels and build better sleep patterns. The school day is also fairly sedentary and children need to get a minimum of 60 minute’s exercise daily to maintain a healthy body. Avoid television or tablets during meal times and in children’s bedrooms.
5. Talk & Listen
Take time to talk and listen to your children - during a family mealtime is ideal. Asking about what has happened in school will ensure that you can remain involved in your child’s school life. It will also also create an environment for important problems such a bullying or other school worries to be aired.
Children may find it hard to distil a day down into a few lines. To avoid the “nothing” reply, familiarise yourself with their school routine so you can ask specific questions to draw them out. ‘Did you have PE today - what did you play?’, ‘What book are you reading in school?’, ‘Who did you sit beside today?’.
6. Prep for School the Night Before
If getting out the door to school is stressful, try to make sure that bags are packed and lunches made the evening before. Involve children as they get older in sharing these routines and chores - instilling in them a sense of responsibility both in taking care of their own things and maintaining punctuality at the same time.
Start in small increments, 5 and 6 year old's often enjoy being given simple tasks to complete. This will also reinforce the methods used in the classrooms by their teachers to maintain order.
7. Make Time for Reading
While younger children may not get a lot of homework making time for reading together is vital. This allows for closeness and supports a calm evening routine. It also supports the literary skills that are being introduced in school.
8. Have a Good Night's Sleep
Many children fail to get enough sleep to keep up with this busy schedule. Kids thrive in a predictable environment. Providing them with a regular routine after school with family meals and a fixed, early bedtime can pay dividends in terms of eliminating fatigue.
The temptation with limited family time is to keep children up later in the evenings. It has been shown that getting even 30 minutes more sleep at night improves school grades. Read all about healthy sleep habits for children.
Hopefully some of these tips to create a healthy back to school routine can help make school days some of the best of their little lives.
Checked and updated: 22 August 2021