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Posts Tagged ‘sleep

The article linked in the tweet above gave me a case of déjà vu. It outlined what other similar articles have reported about sleep:

  • Kids need their sleep
  • They are not getting enough partly because school starts too early
  • Adolescents sleep later due to developmental changes

The only newsworthy item was a benefit of the pandemic: As kids were staying home from school, they were sleeping longer.

Citing a study conducted during the “circuit breaker” period last year, Dr Lim said that with children waking up 55 minutes later on average due to enforced home-based learning, those in primary school gained an extra 30 minutes of sleep, while students in secondary school level slept 56 minutes longer compared to pre-pandemic times.

Unfortunately, the article returned to form. The pros of changing our policies and practices were weighed against the cons. For example:

  • One big pro: Kids perform better academically if they get optimum amounts of sleep.
  • One big con: We need to change transportation schedules if we are to accommodate later school start times.

The big con seems be such an immovable object that sleep ends up in a hard place. I am tempted to call the con a sleeping giant.

According to the report, one expert suggested that telecommuting enforced by the pandemic resulted in less worker transport. When will we wake up to the idea that the problem is an opportunity to provide a benefit to kids and take advantage of changing travel patterns?

Video source

There is so much that we know and do not know about sleep. The sleep expert in the video above outlined what he knew to five learners at different levels of understanding.

As much as I like to say that “teaching is not learning” (i.e., teaching does not guarantee learning), I also recognise that teaching is a function of learning. Clear explanations are helpful, but only if the teacher can quickly evaluate what a learner is capable of understanding in a short time.

Some might point out that the expert only seemed to ask his learners what they understood after their chats. They might not have noticed how he asked questions and chatted with each person before engaging in dialogues.

Evaluations of learners should come first, not the delivery of information devoid of context or need. Think about that. Sleep on that.

I protect my periodic breaks aggressively. I have also learnt to take my sleep seriously.

Video source

Like the video above, I am more than willing to put down anyone who takes pride in getting as little sleep as possible. I can do this because I give myself enough rest and my neurones enough time to make their connections.

Sleep — we all need it, but science does not really know why.

Video source

We do know why sleep is beneficial though. In the realm of schooling, sleep is something that is not often actively prescribed as a learning strategy.

After watching the video above — specifically the part about brain plasticity and memory formation — I wonder if more schools will tell their students to sleep on it. If they do not, maybe tuition centres here will implement a compulsory 2-3pm nap time.

An issue that some Singaporeans keep revisiting is whether schools should start later so that children get enough sleep.

Just over a week ago, I reflected on how adults maintain the status quo (early starts) by focusing on what is NOT best for kids.

Yesterday, another adult wrote to a local rag to add more kerosene to the flame.

The writer’s rationale is that waking very early is good for kids because it instills discipline.

He is missing the point. The issue is not about discipline because there are many other ways to develop it — chores, exercise, self and time management strategies, for example.

The issue is that kids need to get enough sleep. Now this could mean that kids need to sleep early enough the night before and wake up late enough the day of school.

The current realities are that some kids here get so much homework and/or are subject to so much “enrichment” that they do not sleep early enough. If they live far away from school or take arranged transport, they cannot sleep in to compensate.

Insisting that discipline is a result of kids waking up early when their bodies are not sufficiently rested is 1) deflecting the issue, and 2) pretends to be about kids. Instead of using this flimsy excuse, proponents of this should read the research and impact of insufficient sleep and look into other ways of developing discipline.


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