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Finding Ways to Ease into IL School Routines

August 15, 2011

CHICAGO - As Illinois children head back to school, parents are being advised to take a few steps to make the transition easier. The American Academy of Pediatrics says most children between the ages of 3 and 12 years need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep nightly. And Madelyn James, an early childhood expert with Voices for Illinois Children who heads that group's "Great at Eight" initiative, says there are many ways to establish easy bedtime routines.

"Reading to children, as a signal we're slowing down and we're really getting prepared to go to sleep."

James says parents who make sure their children get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods, and stay in contact with teachers give their children the support they need to succeed. She says helping children to find friends with similar interests can be another way to prevent first-day jitters.

Developing good study habits also helps.

"Just like the transition with sleep and with helping them develop new relationships, it's really very important to set up a place at home that's organized, that's devoted to schoolwork."

While James acknowledges there really is no way to "bully-proof" children, she says teaching them good communication skills can go a long way. As for parents who fear that their child may be bullied ...

"They might want to talk with that child's teacher or with school administrators about strategies that they've used in the past that really seem to work in helping children."

The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that school officials should always be alerted to problems. Among other tips, it recommends that parents teach their children to stand tall and stay calm in difficult situations; how to speak in a firm voice such phrases as, 'Please don't talk to me like that;' and how to walk away.

Back-to-school tips are at goo.gl/hNHx0

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL