Do you remember how much cred (credit) you got in college if you pulled an all-nighter? Your friends looked at you with mad respect. Staying up all night is impressive, but you were young, and you could lose a night's sleep. Even back in college, however, there were a few things to remember about all-nighters:
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They Happen Infrequently. If you stayed up every night, you were considered a freak, and probably on your way to being kicked out of school. All-nighters were so awesome and impressive because they were rare.
They Were Saved for Serious, Special Occasions. Nobody pulled an all-nighter to read! You pulled an all-nighter to finish (uh, start?) a term paper or cram three months' worth of information into your head for a final exam.
You Had to Crash the Next Day. Right after you turned in your paper and bragged about how you cool you were, it was time to fall into your bed (usually with your jeans on) and hibernate for the next two days. Crumpled clothes, bed head and a ripe smell extended the all-nighter aura.
Enough reminiscing about the Good Ole Days! The point is that all-nighters are for college students. 18 to 22 year-old young adults. Younger students- we call them 'kids'- are supposed to be living at home with parents that MAKE THEM GO TO BED!
Kids need sleep. Lots of sleep. They need consistent bedtimes and regular sleep hours. It's easy to convince parents of the benefits of sleep when their children have stayed up hours and hours past their bedtime. The next day our little angels are cranky, miserable, and unreasonable. Want to know why teachers hate when the day after Halloween falls on a school day? Students are sleep-deprived, exhausted and coming down from a sugar-high. They can't think, they don't listen, they won't cooperate and play nicely-it's horrible. For teachers, the day after Halloween is definitely trick, never treat.
Staying up late once in awhile is not the problem. It's the day after day, chronic sleep deprivation that causes the problems. Studies show that children that regularly go without enough sleep don't grow, don't learn, don't get along with others. I recently read in Reader's Digest that "teens that don't get enough sleep are at an increased risk for depression, rage, us of stimulants and alcohol, low grades and car accidents." Sheesh.
So, how much sleep do our children need?
Age 3-6: 10 to 12 hours a night
Age 10-12: 10 to 11 hours a night
Age 12-18: 8 to 9 hours a night
Do your children get enough sleep? Probably not; most don't.
As parents, we must say, "Enough is enough!" and make our kids go to bed. I'm talking about every night, not just once in awhile. And, please do not use homework as an excuse. If your children have so much homework that they are staying up late night after night, then they need to get started on it earlier. (You also need to meet with the teacher and figure out what is going on.) And, no, they cannot "make up" sleep on the weekend.
Your children need sleep. You need peace and quiet. Bedtime is sacred, and you cannot allow homework to interfere with it.
Angela Norton Tyler is a literacy coordinator, educational coach and former teacher. Her articles, books, e-books and seminars on reading, studying and homework organization have helped scores of students and their families. Please visit http://www.family-homework-answers.com/homework-organization-how-to-study-ecourse.html to learn more about Angela and her often-controversial views on homework, teaching and education in general.
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