Preparing Kids for Christmas Break!
While Christmas break is just a few weeks long, still, school-age children, tweens and teens need consistent routines to ease the adjustment into the New Year. Mesa Middle School teacher Lauren Dyche teaches eight grade English and we spoke with her about how parents can help kids succeed during and after the coming holiday break.
Keeping Sleep Schedules during School Breaks
We asked Lauren about sleep schedules during school breaks – especially as the return to school approaches, and she stressed that KEEPING the same routine as much as possible is the most ideal.
“One proven method of success and not just for kids, but adults too, is establishing a routine, no matter what school breaks come up,” she says. “Waking up at the same time every day, and going to bed at same time every night, gives us better REM cycles and helps our bodies function more efficiently during the day. With kids especially younger ones, it’s super important – because during the day they’re just moving at the speed of light!” she says.
“Keeping those common waking/sleeping times sets them up for success – it’s better for them when things don’t change vs. when they do.”
Limiting Screen Time during Holiday Break
To give kids the best possible leg-up on academic success during school breaks and the school year, Lauren addressed our question of limited screen time on phones, TVs and computers. While we were focused on the final days of Christmas break, her perspective encompassed what’s best for kids year-round, 24-7.
“What is so interesting to me about the screen-time conversation is that parents have a misconception about their kiddos’ usage, especially if they’re not monitoring it via an app,” Lauren says.
Just speaking from observing students, who are not allowed to have their phones on at our school –Lauren says kids are constantly on their phones the second they think an adult isn’t looking — outside of the classroom, in the halls, when going to the bathroom during lunch, before school and after school, and there’s no way – she says — to police that consumption.
Says Lauren, “One of most brilliant things I ever heard was from a colleague with five kids of her own. She has a house rule: at a set time every evening her children have to surrender their phones which are turned to airplane mode, so her kids were not on snap chat, not texting, not consuming.”
That family community time and wind-down time, one to two hours before bed house rule is supported by studies about the impact of blue light from cell phone screens impacting the melatonin in our brains at night. But it’s about more than quality sleep, Lauren insists.
“Screens and social media have such an impact to the way kids communicate with other people,” she says. “I had a student last year who told me she was uncomfortable because I was making so much eye contact. It blew my mind and caused such a moment of reflection. Kids aren’t developing those interpersonal skills anymore. They’re looking for emojis,” Lauren says, “and real life isn’t like that.”
Lauren had a fun family New Year’s resolution suggestion for parents and kids looking to strengthen those bonds and build interpersonal skills.
“I want to tell you how incredible it is to watch kids play board games,” she says. “It’s like they marvel at them – it’s so new to them – and to see them actually joke and play instead of being stressed out and taking selfies!”
Lauren says the two most popular games among her students are Uno® ($5 at Walmart!) and the Game of Life®. “Those are the games that get grabbed first – every single time,” she says. “Playing games offers families a good time to talk, time to be understood, and time to play,” she says, “even for 15 to 30 minutes. It’s that old-school family time together that’s kind of gone by the wayside but is so good for everyone.”
The Middle School of Crystal Valley
Mesa Middle School sits high above Castle Rock surrounded by canyons, trails, and open spaces and is an International Baccalaureate-recognized school. It’s where middle school-age children in the master-planned community of Crystal Valley, are challenged to excel in their studies and personal growth, and develop a lifelong desire for learning. If you don’t live here yet, stop by and tour the different floor plans in the models of Richmond American Homes, Kauffman Homes, Century Communities and D.R. Horton. With easy access to community amenities, we know you’ll find the new home of your dreams in either a ranch or two-story model, priced from the $300s.