You may have noticed a recent surge in articles concerning sleep deprivation and the effect on a child’s performance in the classroom. I wanted to touch upon this in this week’s blog as throughout my long career in education I can categorically say that the requirement of a good night’s sleep has the most profound effect on a child’s ability to fulfil their potential in school.

Headmaster: JP Thayer

You may have noticed a recent surge in articles concerning sleep deprivation and the effect on a child’s performance in the classroom. I wanted to touch upon this in this week’s blog as throughout my long career in education I can categorically say that the requirement of a good night’s sleep has the most profound effect on a child’s ability to fulfil their potential in school.

Picture the scene – it’s a Monday morning, the teacher has meticulously planned out the class over the weekend and gathered together all the necessary resources. Enter the children. After 5 minutes of sorting out who has lost their pencil, or who needs a ruler the lesson can begin. All of this is within the teacher’s control. The one thing the teacher can’t influence is the concentration span of the children. The yawning that perhaps commences 10 minutes into the lesson could be a judgement on the topic but is more likely a reaction to the night before.

Tiredness alters a child’s approach to their work and is easily identified through their handwriting. Studies have shown that when children are in class, they can have trouble paying attention because of their difficulty focusing. They can miss important verbal lessons due to inattention or they may be unable to complete tasks in the classroom.

Children form their memories best during sleep. Children who sleep well at night will remember the previous day’s lessons better than children who are sleep deprived.

In this 24-hour world there are lots of things to keep children awake. Children’s TV no longer ends at 5pm, everything online is readily available 24/7, and someone is always online and willing to compete through the various game stations.

I am aware of how little time there is between school pick up and bedtime, particularly if children are attending after school activities. Add in some homework, reading, tea and a shower and there is little downtime, but where possible if you can enforce a rule whereby computers / gaming devices / tablets / phones are switched off an hour before bedtime and children are encouraged to relax by having a shower or a quiet read this really will help them to wind down.

In general, children in Year 2 or below should aim for a bedtime of between 7-8pm, and children in Year 3 and above should ideally go to bed between 8pm and 9pm. It doesn’t always follow that the children will sleep – and we know that some need more sleep than others, but if children are encouraged to use this time to reflect, read or even colour this will help their brains to relax and prepare them for a good night’s sleep.

As parents who have chosen to pay for your children to receive the best possible education I know you place great importance on your child’s ability to learn. For us to ensure we get the best out of them the best thing that you can do for us is to try to ensure, as much as you possibly can, that they get a good night’s sleep –particularly on a Sunday night, to prepare them for the week ahead. We in turn can then ensure we get the best out of them during school hours.

For more information on this topic this is a particularly useful article by the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22209818