Kids today are doing more homework than ever before. A study by The American Journal of Family Therapy found that kids are often doing too much homework and sometimes up to three times as much as the national standards suggest. The standard rule endorsed by The National Education Association is ten minutes of homework per night starting in first grade and then adding another ten minutes each year. Despite these recommendations, most students are doing far more and those added hours are pushing bedtimes out causing an epidemic of sleep loss. School-aged children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night, but many kids are only getting 7 to 8 hours per night – or less. And this kind of chronic sleep loss is a big problem since it’s linked to behavior problems, a decline in academic performance, and even poor eating habits and obesity. Are you struggling to juggle school demands and sleep in your home? Here are some simple tips for how to balance school, homework, and sleep.
Keep a Sleep Routine
The key to better sleep no matter what your age is routine, routine, routine. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that you should have a relaxing cool-down period of thirty to sixty minutes before your child goes to bed. If schoolwork is putting a lot of stress on your child, this is the time to let it go. A bath, some stories, bedtime yoga, and meditation are all good additions to a relaxing routine that will help your child fall asleep faster. Make sure you follow your routine at the same time every night as much as possible (that means weekends, too).
Make a Quiet Study Area
Houses get noisy. There’s no denying it. If there are siblings making noise or too many electronic devices on – these can be major distractions. There isn’t always a way to control all the noise in a home, but do your best to create quiet space where your child can stay focused on schoolwork. The work will get done faster, and your kid will retain more of the material they’re studying.
Don’t Cram Too Much Onto the Calendar
Many kids are enrolled in too many extracurricular activities. Being in sports, learning a musical instrument, and being involved in community organizations are all great for building character and making your child a better person, but there can certainly be too much of a good thing. Prioritize what you and your child feel are the most important activities and cancel the rest.
Watch For Signs of Stress
Your child may not know how to tell you that school is stressing them out. Irritability, stomach aches, headaches, and not wanting to go to school could all be signs that things are overwhelming them. If this is happening routinely, you should talk to your pediatrician and reexamine your schedule to see what might be causing the anxiety.
Teach Your Child Time Management Skills
We all procrastinate at times, but teaching your child not to wait until the last minute to start a big project is a great life lesson and a skill that will be an asset throughout their lives. This means that you as the parent need to keep up with what their schoolwork is, so you know when assignments are due.
Check in With Them
Communication is very important in keeping stress levels down. Ask your kids about school, their friends, the work they’re doing, and about their teachers. You might learn that they’re overwhelmed about one assignment that’s been making them lose sleep. Finding out the cause of the problem will make it much easier to fix.
Make Schoolwork Fun
This is easier with younger kids, but treating learning like it’s fun can make a big difference in the amount of groaning when it comes time to study. Being extra encouraging and quick with praise when they do a good job will make them want to keep up the good work.
Going to school is one of the most important parts of your child’s life – but so is sleep. Learning how to balance school, homework, and sleep is critical to their health and happiness. If you have tips that have worked in your house, please share them in the comments to benefit other families!