*How do schedules benefit the developing brain?
Children brains are designed to follow a predictable schedule.
Following the natural cycle of day and night, precise feeding times throughout the day and hormonal monthly changes, we can align with our biological rhythms and operate at a higher efficiency.
Practically, this means creating specific times for feeding, physical activity, play time and sleep, which gives us a sense of ownership and internal joy.
Ultimately, these good habits set us up for maximizing brain power and ensuring academic success.
*Rhythms within guide us: the sleep example
Sleep is a great example illustrating the principle of internal biological rhythms.
When the sun sets and less light enters our retina (layer at the back of the eye which is light sensitive), our circadian pacemaker, the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) synchronizes our internal biological rhythms and signals hormones like melatonin to be released in preparation for sleep.1
Eight hours of sleep per night is considered the golden standard and has been scientifically proven to mediate optimal brain function.
Any deviations from a set sleep schedule (i.e. inconsistent falling asleep/waking up times, reduced hours of sleep, stress, staring into bright light at night) might interfere with our natural sleep-wake cycle and may cause head-aches, lethargy, brain fog and moodiness the very next day.2
*A set schedule primes the brain for success
Children perform better on all parameters once the brain and body are in sync and children are made aware of our expectations.
Using a Montessori-style calendar, work with your child on developing greater awareness and a sense of control over the day.
A sample daily schedule may look like this: example.
Any deviation from the daily routine has the potential to cause headaches, moodiness, temper tantrums and unnecessary battles.
So do yourself a favor and save the drama for another mama – get a solid routine established in the household.
* How to empower our kids?
Self discipline, which you will be teaching to your kid by following a daily schedule will instill exceptional values and build character.
Studies have shown that kids thrive and develop a sense of independence when they feel control over their schedule and given the freedom to choose their activities.
Always offer a choice between two desired outcomes, no matter the child’s age. For instance, ask whether they prefer oatmeal or cereal for breakfast?
This method will eliminate conflict, build a sense of autonomy and enhance confidence as the child feels respected and in charge.
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Wishing you all the best on your journey!
- Christine Blume et al. Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie, 2019; 23(3): 147-156.
- Sarah Sarah Biggs et al. Inconsistent sleep schedules and daytime behavioral difficulties in school-aged children. Sleep Med, 2011; 12(8): 780-6.
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