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What to do when school makes your child tired

A school day starts early, often with a lot of rushing about. It can then be pretty much full on until the final bell goes. Younger children can find it exhausting. In fact they can be so tired after school that their behaviour can become irritable and emotional, so home is not the restful, relaxing place it should be either! 

So what can we do when school makes our child tired?

Well here are a few positive strategies:

Sleeping well is really important to feeling wide awake at school. According to the NHS children between the ages of 5-8 should get between 10-11 hours’ sleep a night.  Set bed and waking times and a wind down bedtime routine really help establish healthy sleep patterns. No screens at least an hour before bedtime, a warm bath, some calm, quiet and a story of two can all help prepare a child for a good night’s sleep. 

A relaxed, structured morning will give them a great start to the day too and enable you to get a good breakfast inside them. Research cited at Eatingwell.com shows giving kids slower-burning carbohydrates like oatmeal, bran cereals and whole-wheat bagels for breakfast instead of faster-burning sugary cereals, works well to helps their concentration and attention throughout the morning.

Setting up clothes, school bags and paperwork the night before means an unhurried and pleasant start to the day and ensures no one burns out before the school day even begins.

During the school day it is important that your child has regular opportunities for fresh air and nutritious food. If they seem unduly tired it might be worth checking with school if they are eating up their lunches and having a good run around at break time. It is also worth asking whether a little quiet time is encouraged during the day and if your child is taking this up. It is definitely worth telling your child’s teacher that they are over tired and then problem solving together.

Sometimes rather than being tired, a grumpy child after school actually has other unmet needs which are worth addressing first.

Little children are often too busy at school to remember to drink enough and dehydration can cause everything from headaches to poor concentration and grumpiness. A water bottle at the ready and encouragement to drink post school should really help.

Younger children are used to regular snacks too and are growing rapidly, they may well be hungry by the time they finish school. Having a snack in your bag when you collect your child could be just the pick-me-up they need. Fruit, cereal bars and rice cakes are easy to transport and can be munched on the way home. This will perk your child up and should improve their mood. 

Rather than after school clubs each night and even more teaching, it is important your child has some down time. They need time to relax their minds; to watch a film, create something, run around on a park or free play. The intensity of constant learning (even if it is out of school) really can be exhausting.

I hope these tips help and you are all getting enough sleep!