I thought about both about Maslov (from last week’s post) and Chip Wood’s recent blog on “Patience – It’s Daylight Savings Time” this week as many children and adults I know struggled to find a “better state of equilibrium.” The switch to daylight savings time came a few weeks ago, but many are still grappling with this change. In our school, spring break occurred a week after the clocks changed. So layered on top of the artifiucal disruption to sleep, many families traveled (within and outside our time zone) and all of us had a change in routine, albeit much needed. Oh yes, and there is a still nasty a flu bug around our neck of the woods and spring sports schedules are in full swing. Meeting physical needs is a tough gig right now, but it’s not Sisyphean.
Spring is a time of pride and strides in first grade, and it is many other grades. It’s a time when seven year olds are blossoming as readers, math thinkers and independent workers as if they were tulips or cherry blossoms. Cognitively, we tend to see jumps in late winter/early spring in first grade. It’s gratifying to teachers and empowering to children. I know many of them are out of sync and tired during other parts of their day, but in the classroom, things are humming along and moving in the right direction. It boosts me out of my own fog to see their pride and watch them work in ways which wouldn’t have been possible just a few weeks earlier!
Behaviorally, many classrooms struggle as a group this time of year. Late and sluggish arrivals, increased irritability and inattention, and a burning desire to get outside during the extended daylight hours take their summative toll. This week, I juggled schedules to alternate patterns of active and quiet work and making decisions about when I could cut kids (my students and my own kids) some slack and let them just “be” for a few stolen moments. I even achieved that, with measured success, myself this weekend. A few extra minutes of sleep or quiet reading, and extra run outdoors, buy even greater gains in the classroom.
So back to those physical needs. It’s hard to get through your daily routine, let alone take risks, if you physical needs aren’t met. Kids need several small snacks and lots of water throughout the day. Keep healthy snacks (fresh, seasonal fruit is on the horizon!) on hand and lots of water to sustain them. Dress them for the elements. In most parts of the country, we can’t count on consistent weather this time of year. Hopefully, your child is getting outside a couple times of day, so you’ll want them to be comfortable indoors and out.
If you know a child over the age of one, you probably know sleeping can be tough. Check out Eating Sleeping, and Getting Up by Carolyn Crowder if you are the parent of a little one. Her practical tips can help you better provide for your child’s physical needs and restore some sanity to your household. Another worthy resource is Dr. Kim West, a.k.a., “The Sleep Lady” at www.sleeplady.com or check out her book Good Night, Sleep Tight. She’s a local family therapist with years of experience helping families and kids work through challenges of disrupted sleep patterns. For school age children, check out a site from Australia, http://raisingchildren.net.au/nutrition__fitness/school_age_nutrition.html.
During this season of extended daylight, increased pulls on our schedules (work, sports, testing, the start of end-of-the-year celebrations), and wonderfully growing children, take a deep breath. If it’s feeling out-of-sync, remember it’s likely to be just part of the cycle of child development which may be slightly out-of-sync with the clocks or simply due to the normal phases of growth. Consider what you can do something about and then act on it — scaling back on schedule demands, fueling up on healthier meals or additional water, carving out additional sleep, or more time outdoors to burn off extra energy. Sisyphean, no. Demanding, yes. Temporary, yes. Wonderful, yes…if you let it be this season, for things will surely turn next season.