Back to Bedtime: How to help your child readjust to early bedtimes for school after the summer break

“Back to School” time is here, complete with the sometimes-difficult transition “back to bedtime.” The summer days are still long and the sun still shines after dinner time. But, readjusting your child to earlier bedtime is an important part of starting the new school year off on the right foot.

Our Waldorf School of Princeton Early Childhood teachers, Laura Branham and Amy Shor, offer some bits of wisdom for parents and caregivers creating bedtime rituals that can help their little ones settle down and ease into sleep…

A Warm and Simple Bedtime Snack

Mrs. Branham suggests a before-bedtime ritual of warm milk and toast with butter and honey. “I would have my children get into PJ's while I prepared the snack. The children would enjoy their simple snack and then it would be time to read a bedtime story, brush teeth and get tucked into bed.” Plan to offer this comforting snack about a 1/2 hour before the story and lights out.

Candle-Light Time

Mrs. Shor tells of a family she had in her class who would ease the transition back to early

bedtimes by starting a period of “candle-light time” at the end of August. To start to settle back into the rhythm of bedtime after later bedtimes and active summer evenings, this family would turn all the lights of the house off after dinner time, as if the whole house was getting ready for bed. Parents put down their devices and model winding down for bedtime for their children - attentive to their children, and attentive to the process.

Mrs. Shor reminds us that young children are part of the environment around them, and so bedtime rituals are most effective when the whole household is coming to rest, not just the children. Just as the infant is regulated by its caregiver - heartbeat and breathing slowing when calmed and cuddled in its caregiver’s arms - we can help our children regulate and find calm and comfort in “coming to rest” at bedtime by creating a home environment that is ready to welcome a peaceful bedtime and a restful sleep.

What is your favorite bedtime routine to help your little ones settle down for sleep?

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