Since my last post about resisting the ‘hurried child syndrome’, I’ve had a few people ask me about why I put my children to bed so early. Well, technically, I put them to bed at 7.30pm but they don’t usually fall asleep till close to 8pm. After we climb into bed, I will read them a chapter of ‘The Magic Faraway’ story and then we cuddle and reflect a little on our favorite parts of the day before they drift off to bed.
Apparently, some parents still feel that 8pm is really REALLY early for primary school aged children to be put to bed so I’m going to share a piece of info which I’ve found some time back.
A few years ago, I attended a first aid/health/nutrition course for attending to young children. It was part of a staff professional development program conducted by an international pre-school which I was working at. One of the topics discussed alongside nutritional needs for young children is the need for adequate quality sleep as a huge determining factor for children’s performance and attention span in class (I have also discussed about this topic in my book, ‘Cool stuff your parents never told you about parenting).
It was brought to my attention that preschool aged children need about 14 units of sleep while primary aged children needed 12 units in order to perform at an optimal level. The calculation is simple; for every hour that they sleep before midnight is equivalent to 2 units and every hour thereafter is equivalent to 1 unit. Add it all up and you should have a rough idea if your child is getting enough sleep to concentrate in class.
If you look up websites, it will tell you that preschool children need about 10-12 hrs sleep and primary school children need between 10-11 hrs. However, this doesn’t really indicate how early your child should go to bed which is necessary for them to have quality sleep.
As for both my boys, they go to sleep at 8pm and wake up at 6am which is (before midnight 4hrs x 2units) + (after midnight 6hrs x 1unit) = 14 units of sleep. This will ensure that they wake up nice and fresh and ready to pay attention in class. Children who get enough quality sleep also tend to day dream less and are less temperamental.
Almost all of the parents whom I coach have children who don’t get enough quality sleep. These are the ones who usually have behavioral difficulties and who don’t do well in class. Getting parents to readjust their children’s sleep schedule and routine is really challenging but those who persist and succeed have witnessed (first hand) the marked difference in their children’s overall development including behavior, energy levels, physical growth and coordination, attention span, appetite and emotional stability.