Today it was announced that the National Association of Head Teachers, with support from the Government, are launching a set of guidelines* for families across Britain following warnings that rising numbers of children aged four upwards are no longer ‘school ready’.
Parents will be handed leaflets reminding them to put their kids to bed on time, ensure they get at least 10 hours sleep, provide a healthy breakfast, set aside time for homework and bedtime stories, interact with them through board games and make sure they bring the correct equipment to school.
This may seem like obvious advice but it’s amazing how many parents don’t understand the implications of the above – in particular not getting a good night’s sleep, eating breakfast and spending time with their children. Apparently schools are now concerned that many children are turning up to lessons unfit for the demands of full-time education.
And we’re really glad to see that sleep is being addressed in this guidance. It was only last year that we questioned primary school teachers and found that nine out of 10 teachers complained that pupils were so tired they were unable to pay attention in class and that more than a third said lack of sleep among youngsters was a daily problem for them. Nearly a quarter of the teachers admitted that they had had to resort to letting children who were very tired, sleep in a corner of the classroom. Shocking isn’t it?
A good night’s sleep is vital. And for children, a decent night’s sleep will help them to do better at school, allow them to react more quickly to situations, have a more developed memory, learn more effectively and solve problems plus it will make them less susceptible to colds and other minor ailments, less irritable and better behaved! Children don’t always understand the importance of sleep which is why it is particularly important for parents to a) know how much sleep their child should get and b) enforce an appropriate bedtime routine.
Here’s our top sleep advice:
– Set aside time before bed to wind down properly. This is a perfect opportunity to read with your child, or talk to them about their day.
– Limit the use of the TV, computers, gaming machines etc before bed.
– The bedroom should be free from distractions such as TVs etc and clear out clutter. Make sure it’s cool, quiet and dark.
– Keep regular bedtime hours. A good sleep routine will work wonders.
– Know how much sleep your child needs. As a general rule of thumb toddlers need around 12 hours of sleep a night; children aged four to six – 10.5-11.5 hours; six-12 years olds – 10 hours; and teenagers – around eight to nine hours.
What are your thoughts on this?
*The NAHT, which represents 28,500 heads, deputies and assistant head teachers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has teamed up with the charity Family Action to produce guides to help parents ensure their children are ready for school. The campaign – Ready to Learn Everyday, which has been backed by David Laws, the Schools Minister – will involve the distribution of a series of four leaflets through schools led by NAHT members.