The Changing of Seasons

By Ms Karen Mahar, Assistant Principal and Deputy Head of Junior School

As the vibrant colours of autumn fade, the cold air and bare trees signify winter has arrived.

The changing of seasons often prompts reflection on the passing of time and the natural cycles of life. Winter, in particular, has a unique significance as it represents a period of dormancy and rest in many parts of the world. It is a time when nature takes a pause, and there are valuable lessons we can learn from seasons.

Firstly, the arrival of winter and the cold air remind us of the importance of taking care of ourselves and adapting to changing circumstances. Just as animals retreat to their shelters and conserve energy, humans too can benefit from slowing down and prioritising self-care during this time. Winter provides an opportunity for introspection, reflection, and rejuvenation. It encourages us to create a balance between productivity and rest, reminding us that rest is essential for growth and well-being.

Moreover, the bare trees of winter can serve as a reminder of the beauty that can be found in simplicity and stillness. It teaches us to mindfully embrace the stillness, be present and find solace in the moments of tranquility.

Sleep also plays a vital role during the winter season. The longer nights and shorter days can encourage us to listen to our bodies' natural rhythms and get adequate rest. Sleep is essential for our physical and mental well-being, allowing our bodies to repair and rejuvenate. Just as nature rests and replenishes during winter, our bodies also need sufficient sleep to recover and prepare for the coming seasons.

Sleep is crucial for both young school children and our senior students due to its significant impact on their physical health, cognitive abilities, emotional regulation and well-being.

A sleeping student.

Here are several reasons why sleep is important for school children:

  • Cognitive functioning: Sleep plays a vital role in cognitive functions such as attention, memory, decision-making, and problem-solving.
  • Learning and memory consolidation: During sleep, the brain consolidates and organises information obtained throughout the day, transferring it from short-term to long-term memory. This process is essential for effective learning and the retention of new knowledge and understanding.
  • Physical growth and development: Sleep is crucial for a student's physical growth and development. The growth hormone is primarily released during deep sleep, aiding tissue repair, muscle development, and overall growth. Additionally, sleep supports a healthy immune system, helping prevent illness and promote overall well-being.
  • Emotional regulation: Sufficient sleep contributes to emotional regulation and stability. Students who are well-rested are better equipped to manage stress, cope with challenges, and regulate their emotions effectively. On the other hand, sleep deprivation can lead to mood swings, irritability, and behavioural problems.
  • Attention and focus: Lack of sleep impairs a child's ability to sustain attention and concentrate, making it difficult to stay engaged in learning activities.
  • Physical and mental health: Chronic sleep deprivation in children has been associated with a range of physical and mental health issues, including obesity, cardiovascular problems, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, and increased risk of accidents or injuries.

To promote optimal sleep for school-aged children, it is generally recommended that young people get the following amount of sleep based on their age:

  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
  • School-age children (6-12 years): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (13-18 years): 8-10 hours
  • Parents and teachers: :)

Both pause and sleep are essential for maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Incorporating regular pauses throughout the day and prioritising sufficient sleep can have a profound impact on overall well-being, productivity, and quality of life.

Unfortunately, some people wear their busyness like a badge of honour. They haven’t learned that there’s a counterintuitive way to live a better life: slowing down, pausing, or simply getting an early night.

Establishing consistent sleep routines, creating a sleep-friendly environment, and promoting healthy sleep habits are essential steps to ensuring that school students get adequate and restful sleep.

Good sleep comes with superhuman powers. Families are encouraged to occasionally press pause and pay attention to sleep routines in the household.