At the recent student-teacher-parent conferences, I raised this concern with a number of the families in my class, and was amazed to find how rampant this condition is. You see, a lot of my students appear to suffer from an inability to focus and concentrate, and with all the varied teaching I do to address different intelligences and learning styles, I simply could not believe that these students all have ADD, so I began to ask parents what time their children go to bed, wondering if perhaps long-term sleep deprivation might be playing a role in some of my students' difficulties at school.
I was absolutely stunned by my findings: The vast majority of my grade three students are not in bed before 10 p.m., a full TWO HOURS after my own children go to sleep, and several of my students stay up even later than that, including one girl who -- not surprisingly -- misses all kinds of school due to lateness or absence and stays up until midnight or 1 a.m. most night (mornings)!!!
My colleagues found similar phenomenons in their classrooms. It would appear that our students are severely sleep-deprived, with frightening results. They can not listen, need frequent reminders to follow instructions, have difficulty focussing on task, and fall further and further behind as the school year progresses and they are unable to keep up with the work, even when it is modified to meed their learning style. They experience difficulty in resolving conflicts with peers, and are unable to articulate their needs to one another or to teachers, as they are searching for words which their tired brains simply cannot access. This is an especially alarming problem because so many of my students' brains are already taxed at school due to the fact that they are learning in a language that is not their first.
Interestingly, five of the more focussed, well-behaved and academically successful students in my class confirmed that they are in bed by 8 p.m. every night.
In an effort to educate and combat this epidemic, a colleague of mine created the letter/homework sheet below. It is suitable fro Grades 2 and up. Feel free to modify it for use in your own classroom!