Updated by Ashley C. on September 17, 2021
Our kids are growing up in a busy world! Even before they hit the double digits, it’s easy for their lives to be consumed with soccer schedules, ballet classes, hockey tournaments, and other extracurricular activities.
While all of these activities can provide incredible benefits, they also often result in later than ideal bedtimes.
As adults, we frequently choose to sacrifice sleep for that elusive alone time. And kids don’t want to miss out either. But if your child isn’t getting enough sleep, it’s important to hold firm on an early bedtime.
But that bedtime struggle is real and exhausting. If you’re looking for ways to improve your elementary child’s sleep, read on. We’re sharing 6 ways to increase their sleep (and give you more time for yourself). Let’s get to it!
How much sleep does your kid really need?
According to The Sleep Council, kids between the ages of 6 and 12 years old need to be getting between 10 and 12 hours per night...or an average of 11 hours.
So, if your kiddo needs to be up at 7 am for school, they should be asleep by 8:00 pm. And that means your bedtime routine needs to start by 7 or 7:30 pm. This is tricky any day, but those long summertime days can make an early bedtime seem impossible.
3 Signs That Your Child Needs More Sleep
Every child is different. Some may thrive on just 10 hours a night. Others need 12+ to make it through the day. If you aren’t sure if your child is getting enough sleep, look for these signs.
😴 Does your child frequently fall asleep in the car when heading home from school or going to activities?
😴 Do you struggle to wake them up every single morning?
😴 Do they seem overly cranky or emotional most days?
If you notice these signs, try to spend a week or so tracking their sleep. If you suspect your elementary child isn’t getting enough sleep, don’t worry. There are some easy ways to help them back up their bedtime and get the rest they need.
6 Ways to Help Your Elementary Schooler Get More Sleep
Get outside in the sunshine
Getting more natural light is a great way to prep the body for a better night’s sleep. Head to a local park after school. Or just let them run around in the backyard while you fix dinner. The more time they have to play in the sun, the more ready they will be for bedtime.
Encourage calming activities after dinner
Bring more calm and less screentime into your evenings for a smoother bedtime. That doesn’t mean your kids can’t run around and get out that crazy nighttime energy. Just try to encourage some quiet time as well.
Here are a few activities to keep your evenings relaxed:
- Art and coloring
This is a great calming activity for both you and your kids. Break out your favorite coloring book and colored pencils and relax.
If you want to add some extra fun to their coloring time, check out our Color In Water Bottle! You can tackle bedtime while encouraging them to drink more water with this awesome activity. Win-win!
- Mess-free crafts
The end of the day is not the time to break out the glitter and hot glue. But crafting is a great calming activity for kids.
Look for crafts without the mess, such as stickers, stamps, or our Wax Craft Sticks. These will keep after-dinner time fun for them, and low stress for you.
Reading is always an excellent nighttime activity. Pull your favorite chapter book off the shelf and read together as a family. Or encourage them to explore their latest passion with a new library book.
Reading time is great, but try not to force it. That’s a sure way to get push back. But if you know what they’re into, you can have those books out and easy to see. You may be surprised to find your child reading once the pressure is off.
- Puzzles and games
Have some time to kill after dinner? Try a fun family board game or puzzle! There are so many great choices for kids. Not only will you be bonding as a family, but also helping you kids learn valuable skills like teamwork and even math.
Puzzles are another great example of focused work that kids love. Check out the Purple Ladybug Color In Puzzle pack and combine both coloring and puzzle time.
- Podcasts or audiobooks
It can be hard to cut out the evening screen time. Everyone just wants to sit and relax a while. If this has been a struggle for you, find a family-friendly podcast or audio book instead.
There are many great options for podcasts. Check out Story Pirates for an engaging mix of fun stories and songs. Or dive into science topics with Brains On. With these audio tales you won’t miss TV time.
Set a daily reminder to end your day
Keeping a consistent bedtime is so important. But some days just fly by, and before you know it you’re running late. And that can just lead to extra bedtime stress.
Fix this by setting a reminder on your phone or device. It will give your kids an audible way to know that it’s time to wrap things up. And you won’t find yourself missing the bedtime mark. Sometimes simple solutions to common problems are all you need to find your groove.
Rework your child’s bedtime routine
How much time are your kids spending getting ready for bed? Is their routine the same every night? If you find yourself constantly barking orders to “brush your teeth” or “get dressed”, it’s time to think through the routine.
Find a time that everyone can sit down together and talk things over. Involve your kids in the planning. What has to get done? What will help them settle down for the night? Try to loosen your reins here a bit and let them have a say.
Set clear expectations together, and keep firm with the new plans. After a week or so you may find bedtime happening without the constant reminders and aggravation.
Create a soothing sleep space
Your elementary child is growing up, but they may still have fears and concerns around bedtime. If they are constantly getting out of bed, find out why. Sometimes it will just be a serious case of FOMO. But other times they may need help finding ways to shut down their mind.
Help them create a soothing space for sleep. Encourage journaling to get out those swirling, end-of-day thoughts. Help them choose bedding that they love to snuggle into. And remedy a fear of the dark with just the right glow. Our Glow In The Dark decor can add a little magic (and a calming light) to their room. And when the bedroom feels like a safe place, they’ll sleep soundly.
Address night time or early waking
If your child is waking up often or too early, that will definitely take a toll on their sleep. And finding out why can be difficult. But the best first step is to ask them. Do they know why they are waking up? How do they feel when they wake at 5am? What is keeping them from going back to sleep?
Stress has a way of popping into your mind when things are quiet. It’s the same for your kids. Using the above recommendations for creating a soothing sleep space is a start. Also watch out for too much caffeine in the evening.
If those early morning wakings keep happening, explore soothing practices, like meditation, with your child. Getting back to sleep can take practice. Help them find the tools that work best for their wakings, and their sleep will improve.
Your elementary schooler can get more and better sleep!
You already know that those little bodies are growing fast. And they need enough sleep to fuel them. We hope our suggestions help your whole family get a better night’s sleep. Try out these tips and tricks and then let us know...what worked best for you and your child? We’d love to hear from you!
Need a quiet and calming activity tonight? Grab our weekly FREE printable here!