KAT’S CORNER: Summer to School Success! You seriously want me to start NOW?!?

Can you believe there is less than a month before school starts back here in the Sunshine State?!   Whether your child is in traditional school, homeschooled or partner for education with Spark! Creative Community School™, the end of lazy summer days will soon be coming to an end. Some parents cannot wait, and some wish summer could last forever.  Whichever parent you are, the transition to get the kids ready and prepared for school is never easy!  Chaos and confusion will happen, but there are things you can do to reduce anxiety and make this the most successful school year yet!  Over the next few weeks, your friends at Spark! will be blogging about a few things that will make the transition for everyone.  Gradually making these changes will make the school year start more successful for EVERYONE!


The most important tip we can offer is to start NOW, especially when it comes to reestablishing routines and reviewing school requirements! 


As the summer seems to be ending, we’re inclined to make the most of it, with late bedtimes, lazy mornings, and embracing the lack of structure and the end of the day.  But this is sure to make the first few weeks of school unbearable. With many schools starting in three weeks, starting to re-establish routines in Morning, Afternoon AND Night beginning NOW will be a key to success.  

The first step should be resetting your body clocks to get kids back on track for school day bedtime.  Move their bedtime back 15 minutes every 3-4 days until they have reached their school-night bedtime.  Do the same in the morning, easing your child into slowly waking up earlier for school.  Many studies suggest it takes about 21 days to create a new habit, so starting now will help prevent grumpiness and squabbles at school time, and encourage healthy sleep habits that encourage active learning.  

So how much sleep do they really need?  The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend that:

Preschoolers get 11-13 hours of sleep per night,

School-aged children (1st through 5th grades) get 10-11 hours,

And Teens get at least 9-10 hours per night.  


A study published in Pediatrics, found that , “a modest addition of sleep each night – an average of 27 minutes among children ages 7 to 11 – resulted in significant improvement in their ability to regulate their emotions, including limiting restless-impulsive behavior in school”. ( see more at http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/More-Sleep-Linked-to-Improved-Child-Alertness-Behavior.aspx#sthash.wFbEm7A5.dpuf

Anyone who knows me knows I’ve always been a stickler for early bedtimes.  Even I have been lackadaisical this summer, and my little man has stayed up longer than he ever has this summer.   But in the attempt to “practice what I preach”, my own efforts started last night, putting my monkey to bed a few minutes early.  It started a discussion of, “c’mon it’s so early” and ended with him going to sleep 90 minutes after he went to bed!  Here’s hoping by school time, we’ve all adjusted back to a reasonable bedtime peacefully!

Another good tip is to start eating breakfast lunch and dinner around the times your child(ren) will eat when they are in school or in their “Creative Community School” classes at Spark!.    Some children in school will have lunch at 10:45a.m., while others not until 1!  Find out now when your child will be having lunch and have their bodies get used to the timing so they’re fueled up at the right time.

Finally. It’s important to have the kids up, dressed and out early over the next few weeks.  That may be a challenge for you, but it will make school time so much easier. If they’re not already signed up, Participating in camp is a great way to reestablish this goal!  In the next few weeks, Spark! has a few spots left in their morning camps.  Not only will this help with establishing a morning routine, but it will get their brains and their bodies moving!  We have Reading and Writing workshops, Drama Camps, Bricks for Kids™ Lego Robot camps, as well as Art of the Masters, by the fabulous Miss Fabiola!  Learn more about our camps or sign up at http://sparkec.net/classesevents/kids-camps/summer-break-camp/summer-camp-2014/ .



It seems like summer just started for me, but the summer supply lists are coming all too quickly.   That means there will be a mad dash for school supplies, doctors’ appointments, and paperwork.    That also usually means a lot of money flying out of your wallet!   Starting now can not only help spread out the costs, but it could also decrease headaches at the beginning of school.  Make sure you know your school’s requirements for health, immunizations and physicals.   Most schools require a copies of current physicals and vaccinations before they will let the child start school.   If your child will participate in any after school activities, they also often require copies of physicals, too.  Schedule the appointments now, to reduce the stress of long lines and full schedules. 


Don’t forget to include an examination of your child’s eyes, even if they don’t wear glasses or seem to have issues.   The American Optometry Association (AOA) estimates that 1 in 4 children has a vision-related condition.  Many children don’t know to share that they are having vision problems, but left untreated, vision problems can lead to learning, reading or attention problems.   Have your child checked before school starts to give them the best of every opportunity to succeed.   Parents should also check with their local community clinics for free or low cost immunizations. During back-to-school events, many local drug stores may also offer discount immunizations or other specials.  Check out your local Department of health for more information! (in Seminole County: http://www.floridahealth.gov/chdSeminole/immunizations-Childhood.html;  in Orange County http://orchd.com/personalHealth/immunizations/ )


Finally, make sure your child is on his way to completing any summer reading requirements or suggestions!   All you need as the last week of summer approaches is to struggle

with reading and homework requirements before school even starts!  Save some time now for your little one to do their requirements, or brush up on some math and reading

sheets at the time you would normally have them do homework.  It’s just another opportunity to reinforce those ever important routines.  One of my favorite free websites for math drills  is http://www.superkids.com/aweb/tools/math/ .  Do you have a favorite you can share?


More tips coming in a few days, but until then, enjoy the weekend, your family time, and the rest of your summer days!

Spark! it forward™,


Kat Ventura, MSW

Kat Ventura has a Masters in Social Work and worked in the clinical field for about 10 years, focusing mainly on supporting and advocating for the needs of children and families.  She then took her skills to focus on proactive prevention-focused program development, program management, and curricula development on issues across the age span.  She’s done an extensive amount of teaching, research, and presentations in these fields, presenting at the many national and international conferences including the International CDC conference.  She worked with CT Governor's office and Departments of Public Health and Children and Families to improve programs and services to children and families.  Mrs. Ventura, as a college professor, taught Sociology and Child Development before joining Spark! as General Manager.  

In the Spark! Franchising System, Kat serves as a positive, steady resource and liaison for our Franchisees as Chief Compliance Officer. If you’d like to learn more about franchising with Spark!, please call Kat at 1.844.SPARK.WW (1.844.772.7599) or email her at Kat@SparkWorldWide.net.  http://sparkec.net/about-us/franchise/