Students and Sleep

Long term readers of my blog know that I have a particular interest in the issue of sleep.

My interest stems from a belief that for those of us in education, learning must always be of far greater interest than teaching. What I mean by this is that we have to be infinitely curious about all aspects of how people learn, the different ways that people learn, how learning is enhanced and how learning might be impaired.

To me, sleep is a vitally important ingredient in the whole issue. I believe there’s so much scientific evidence now of the negative impacts of inadequate sleep on children’s learning that it is wrong for educators to excuse themselves by suggesting that it’s ‘a family matter’ or ‘none of our business’. The plain fact is that diet, exercise and sleep play fundamental parts in a child’s ability to learn effectively. If we are to be the best educators we can be, then we have to take an interest in these issues. More, we need to play a part in educating both the child and the parent about what works, scientifically, and what might handicap learning. We want our children to become lifelong learners, capable without teacher and for this they need to understand key constituent parts of the process. They also need to know how to create the best possible climate for their own learning.

This was why I found the resource below especially worthwhile. It comes from the New York Times blogs and it’s a lesson plan that can be used to get children analyzing their own sleep habits, conjecturing about whether they need to change things and how they might do that. It is very neatly mapped to many different aspects of curriculum, beyond the health aspects to maths, life skills and language arts:

If any teachers take this material and use it with their class(es) after the start of term I would love to hear how it went, what the children really enjoyed, whether you stuck strictly to the proposals or how you might have differentiated the material to the needs of your own students.

NY Times Blog: Lesson Plan on Sleep


One Response

  1. I agree that it’s critically important for kids and parents and educators to be aware of how much sleep kids need. But given the amount of evidence that adolescents fall asleep later and therefore need to wake up later, and that all kinds of problems result from chronic lack of sleep– car crashes, bad decisions, poor learning etc–I find it quite worrisome that school systems are not addressing this need by changing timetables so that schools can start later and end later. Kids are also not their own advocates and in fact those I have spoken to feel there are no options because otherwise afternoon sports would be delayed, they’d get home much later….. But we must focus on the high price kids pay for their short-sightedness and the willingness of all adults to ignore the evidence, and we must find a solution that works for all.

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