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Age-Appropriate Bedtimes During the School Year

by Jonita Davis

School-aged children and teens need bedtimes for much more than to add stability to a home routine. It is a ritual that establishes the rest time needed for the tiny human body. Sleep helps the body repair itself, and it provides psychological and physical refreshment so that the child can be sharp and ready to learn the next day. From preschool kids to teenagers, all children can benefit from an age-appropriate bedtime during the school year.

Necessary Sleep Hours

The establishment of a bedtime depends on the amount of sleep time needed for the child's age group. According to the National Sleep Foundation, preschool children need 11 to 13 hours of sleep each night. Elementary school children, ages 5 to 12, require 10 to 11 hours of sleep. Middle school children and teens both need approximately 9 hours of sleep to be able to function at school. Your child may need more or less sleep, as each young body differs in sleep needs.

Some Sample Times

Most school days begin at 8 a.m., but your child's may differ. Based on the 8 a.m. start time, your child may need to rise from sleep at 6 or 6:30 a.m. To accomplish this wake-up time with the appropriate amount of sleep, preschool kids need to be in bed at 6 or 7 p.m. the night before. Elementary school students should be in bed at 8 p.m. and the older kids, including the teens, should be in bed by 9 p.m. each night. These bedtimes are the most appropriate given the amount of sleep each age group needs in order to function at school the next day.

Signs of A Late Bedtime

Kids and teens who do not get enough sleep are easy to spot in the classroom. These kids are often dozing off or sleeping in class, but these are not the only symptoms. Sleep-deprived students are often irritable and cranky. These students have difficulty paying attention in class and concentrating on the task at hand. Short tempers, memory problems and even impaired judgement are signs of a bedtime that needs adjusting.

Making the Adjustment

Children will not take to the new bedtime all at once. That's why a bedtime ritual is important. It helps to condition the child for a new, most likely earlier, bedtime. For example, a bath followed by pajamas and story time is a good ritual for preschool and elementary school children. Middle school and high school children may prefer bathing as well, but reading on their own is more appropriate than being read to. To ensure that the bedtime ritual works, parents should take away all electronic devices and check on the kids to make sure that they remain in bed until everyone is accustomed to the bedtime.

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