In the womb, we grow and develop to rhythm of our mom’s heartbeat. We need rhythm and predictability to mature, learn and gain skills. As you are reading this, think about something you know that requires you to sing a tune to recall the specifics—is it the state capitols, how about the I before E rule, the presidents in the correct order or maybe it’s a rule from your days in the elementary school. I remember the little song from my first grade teacher, Mrs. Motley as we walked down the hallway—“hands on your hips & button your lips.” Our brains have an interesting way of holding onto information that is taught in a rhythmic and predictable manner. The need applies to all areas of our lives, but this really applies as we head back into the rhythm and routine of a new school year!
Can you think about a time when you and your family got out of sync with one another and it felt as if the wheels were falling off? It could be the beginning of summer break or a few days of vacation with a different schedule or for many of us it is when the school year begins. As we are heading into the last few weeks of the summer break, I want us to begin to create the rhythm and predictability in our schedules for our brains to prepare for the school year ahead.
Summer break is a time of freedom, no structure and spontaneity, however that type of environment is not one to help us be successful in school. Now is the time to create rhythm and predictability to your schedules.
1. Begin now & establish a routine: Bedtimes, curfews, when do electronics get turned off and stored away, when can we have slumber parties with friends. Here is a quick chart to show you how much sleep your child should be getting:
2. Be consistent with the routine: Sleep hygiene is critical for all of us and it is often one of the first things that we let slide with our kids. Even on the weekends our hours of sleep should not change significantly.
3. Create a technology use plan. Many of our kids have spent countless hours playing video games this summer. Video games are very rewarding and can captivate our attention for hours at a time. Transitioning back to school can be challenging because our brains are used to getting high amounts of the pleasure chemicals while we play the games. Thus our students might struggle with attention, completing tasks and sitting still in a classroom setting. Begin to limit the amount of tech time. This includes cell phones, iPads, laptops, gaming systems and television.
Not quite sure how to create a schedule or technology plan? Check out our PDF on creating a technology plan
We know that as we head back to school things may be challenging. New schedules, new teachers, new routines. Creating predictability in the midst of a lot of transitions is critical for their growth and development.
A great visual for me is a pendulum with 15 billiard balls. When you start, it will quickly fall out of sync and then within 60 seconds the billiard balls will all fall back into sync with one another because of a predictable and consistent environment. Keep this in mind as the same can be said about our plans for the fall. Be predictable. Be consistent.