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Wellbeing | Connecting school and home

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” — John Steinbeck

Here we are, wherever that is for you, almost one year from the first lockdown in Toronto. A full month into virtual learning 2021. Head first into February. 

Are you okay? How are you coping? Are you sleeping? Any silver linings?

One silver lining that I see is an increased awareness of how precious our health is. The strong connection between our physical, social and mental health has never been more obvious. At UCC, our Wellbeing Framework calls this: Head, Heart and Humanity, all interconnected and oh so precious.

A key element in keeping our precious interconnection flowing is sleep.

Our relationship with sleep is deeply personal. The hours of sleep we need, when we sleep (especially for teens), our sleep habits, the value we give to sleep and for some of us, our sleep “score” are all unique. However, the positive health impact of regular, quality sleep cannot be denied.  

Helping our teens to get more sleep may take a lot of support…work…patience…convincing? Teens do have a reputation for being sleep-deprived. But as Dr. Mary Carskadon suggests, “Despite adolescents’ expectations of autonomy, parental influence and expectations really do help kids make better decisions about managing their time.” 

Sleep troubles are not unique to teens. Many younger kids, especially this year, can experience difficulties with sleep. Along with consistent bedtime routines, warm baths and weighted blankets, there are some helpful ideas for our young ones in this resource from the Child Mind Institute

In Tom Rath’s book Eat Sleep Move he goes so far as to suggest we make sleep a family value. Student(s) in your house not convinced? Check out this tidbit of science from Rath: “A night of good sleep helps your brain process what you learned the day before.” 

For kids of the age who know their alphabet and on up, you may want to try out the 2 techniques to fall asleep all Upper School students were taught by Michael Nolan during a workshop in their year-level advising sessions. Ask your student if they have tried them since the workshop. Ask them to teach them to you. Or watch a recording of the advising sleep workshop and try it for yourself! You can also follow up with a few evidence based sleep tips.

You know what else helps? Taking these 3 breaks every day. Every day. Daily. Each one every day. Physical, spiritual(ish), or social. Healthy breaks do so much to restore us and strengthen the interconnectedness of our wellbeing. 

How to take healthy breaks has been a focus of advising conversations at the Prep and Upper School. Chat with family members about the breaks you take and how they make you feel. Share your strategies. 

My husband is now affectionately called “Coach Carl” by my daughters because we take a family walk every morning after breakfast to “get our steps in” and chat about what the day looks like. It really does help us to feel awake and connected and the dog has never been in better shape! 

Michael Nolan says, “practice makes permanent”. Wouldn’t it be cool to come out the other side of this time with permanent healthy habits as a lifelong silver lining? 

We would love to hear the positive coping strategies you and your family are doing.

Be well,
Laurie Fraser
Coordinator, Student Wellbeing Programs