PINE BELT (WDAM) - Summer is winding down and students across the Pine Belt will be heading back to school in the coming weeks. But, experts say now is the time to begin the transition to a back to school schedule.
Melissa Smith, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Hattiesburg Clinic, said it's an exciting time, but can also be fearful and stressful for many students. Smith said it's important to make a slow adjustment into the school year before the first bell rings.
Smith said one of the biggest things parents may have to adjust is their child's sleep schedule, depending on how much they strayed during the summer.
"If a child has been staying up until one o'clock in the morning, back it up by an hour every couple of nights," said Smith. "Or get them up a little earlier the next morning."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children and teens get between nine to eleven hours of sleep a night.
Smith also suggests a "wind down time" an hour before bedtime.
"Turning off screens, any kind of screen. TVs, computers, video games, Ipads, Ipods, cellphones. All of it, one hour before you want the child to sleep," said Smith. "So get in bed, read, draw, color, write, have a shower, have a snack, something like that. Something that's less stimulating to the brain so it's ready to go to sleep."
Here are five tips from Connections:
- Although bedtime can be later in the summer, don’t stray too far from normal bedtime and sleep schedules. Sleeping until lunchtime in the summer is not a healthy habit, and this habit can take days or weeks to readjust.
- Keep children active in the summer with at least 20-30 minutes of daily physical activity. Encourage playing outside, riding bicycles, sports and swimming.
- Limit screen time (TV, computer, video games, IPAD, tablets, etc.) to 2 hours per day. (This recommendation actually applies year-round.)
- Have your child read 15-20 minutes per day throughout the summer (their choice of reading material).
- Let your child be actively involved in preparing for the upcoming school year (For example: shopping for school supplies and clothes or meeting with new teachers).
"Good sleep, good eating habits, daily exercise, being active, all that goes hand in hand and helps them get off to a good start," said Smith.
To make sure your children and ready for the first day of school, check out the WDAM Back to School Guide for supply lists, district information and more for all schools across the Pine Belt.