5 Tips To Make Sure Your Child Has Enough Energy For School

child going to school

For many parents, the buzz of a morning alarm can feel less like a reminder to start the day than a screeching blast that begins the desperate morning race. You rise from bed to shake your children awake, rush downstairs to put on the coffee, pop some frozen waffles in the toaster, and then return to the bottom of the stairs to call, coax, wheedle and shout to get your children moving. You’re like the screaming coxswain of a boat that no one wants to row. And even if you manage to get everyone dressed and out the door, you can’t help but notice that they’re stumbling, half-awake zombies with no interest in the handful of granola you forced into their hands.

How on earth, in the bustle of everyday life, can you make sure your child not only makes the school bus on time, but does it with plenty of energy for class?

Bump Back That Bedtime
As a harried and sleep-deprived parent yourself, you’ll be hard-pressed not to roll your eyes at this simple but difficult-to-administer advice. By making your child go to bed at an earlier hour you’re not only depriving him of well-deserved downtime, but as working parents, you may also be sacrificing quality time with your children. On top of that, the act of changing a bedtime means fighting your child’s long-instilled sleep-time habits as well as his circadian rhythms.

As difficult as this advice seems, it’s vital that your children get a full night’s sleep of eight hours or more. It’s a scientific fact that sleep deprivation has a deleterious effect on school performance for students of all ages. Sleep deprivation affects motor skills, problem-solving abilities, concentration, attention, and test performance.

Benefit With Better Sleep
Sleep deprivation isn’t just about the length of slumber but also about the quality of sleep. The brain needs to refresh itself by sinking into deep REM cycles. A light sleeper might be easily roused by footsteps in the hallway, a car going by on the street, or a heating system cycling on and off. A bad night’s sleep can make a child moody, irritable, and listless during the day even if he never left his bed during a ten-hour night. Consider these options to help your child sleep soundly:
• Avoid phones, computers, and all blue screens at least an hour before bedtime. Studies have shown that these stimulate the brain, making it harder for a child to fall asleep.
• If sounds startle him, introduce white noise into his bedroom like the steady whir of an overhead fan.
• If light rouses him, use light-blocking shades to screen out glaring headlights or streetlights.
• If he consistently snores or breathes unevenly, consider if he’s suffering from upper respiratory blockage issues like allergies or sleep apnea.

Fuel Up In The Morning
Yes, it’s true, at least for children: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Kids who eat a solid breakfast perform better academically, can concentrate for longer periods of time, and are less likely to behave like whirling dervishes in the classroom. Kids who haven’t eaten breakfast tend to crash mid-morning as their blood sugar slumps. A high-protein and high-carbohydrate breakfast powers them through the morning lessons while keeping their blood sugar even at least until snack time, if not until lunch.

What’s On The Plate Matters
Frozen waffles, breakfast bars, and pour-out-of-the box kid cereals are the convenient way to fill up stomachs when under time pressure, but these high-simple-sugar options are not the best fuel for a child heading off to school. Carbohydrates are an important part of breakfast, but protein is necessary: It’s the ballast that regulates blood-sugar and keeps kids feeling full for a longer period of time.

Consider these school day breakfast possibilities:
• A hand-held, scrambled-egg-and-cheese, whole-wheat burrito
• A yogurt, fresh berry, and granola parfait
• Sliced hard-boiled eggs on squares of whole-wheat toast
• Protein smoothie with fresh fruit

Adjust Your Timetable
Helping your child feel alert, vital, and wide awake through a long school day is a challenge and may require adjustments not just on their part, but on your own part as well. Waking up earlier to prepare a sturdy breakfast, holding firm to a consistent and reasonable bedtime schedule, and making sure your child is getting quality sleep means vigilance, organization, and preparation. So make sure you’re following the same healthy habits, and soon both your children and yourself will benefit from them.

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