This is part five of my five-part mini series on the Health Month initiative I created for my school.
As I explained in the first part of this series, Health Month is an annual, month-long initiative I run throughout the month of May that is designed to help celebrate healthy, active living within my school’s community. The initiative is broken down into four weeks, with each week having it’s own theme:
In this blog post, I will be walking you through the activities and challenges that I created for Health Month’s Sleep Week.
As I mentioned in my previous Health Month posts, I established a few learning targets to guide the design of each week’s activities/challenges. For Sleep Week, the learning targets were:
✅ I can discuss the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep.
✅ I can list and implement healthy sleep habits.
I shared these targets with the rest of the faculty via the ‘#healthmonth’ channel in our school’s Slack workspace leading up to Sleep Week so that everyone was aware and on the same page. The targets were also shared with my school’s parent community via our Health Month weekly email in the hopes that it would guide discussions at home.
As I redesigned Health Month’s Sleep Week, a lot of my thinking was being influenced by what I learned in Matthew Walker’s incredible book “Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power of Sleep and Dreams”.
Why We Sleep
In the weekly Health Month email blast (you can access the template as part of the Health Month Teacher Pack), I introduced parents to the idea of sleep hygiene and shared some of the benefits that healthy sleep habits can have on our health, learning, and productivity. I also shared links to Matthew Walker’s TEDTalk as well as a few podcast interviews with him that I thought could be useful.
I have to say that – of all of the weekly Health Month email blasts I sent out – the Sleep Week newsletter received the most engagement! For many parents, sleep was something that they were struggling with themselves and weren’t sure how to approach the subject with their kids. They were so grateful that the students would be learning about sleep hygiene at school as well as for the resources we were providing them with!
I also created a set of “Sleep Benefit Posters” that got posted around the school throughout Sleep Week.
These posters were complemented by discussions that took place in physical education class at the start of the week. I was taken aback by how little students knew about sleep and felt responsible for having not made it a bigger part of our discussions on health and healthy behaviours earlier. I’m pumped to see how many teachers are now spending time talking to their students about sleep (especially in these pandemic/lockdown days) and can’t wait to continue to build new resources to help educate students!
Sleep is a tricky theme because it was hard to bake it into the school day. That said, our school used to have a tradition called “Drop Everything And Read (DEAR)” that involved students engaging in silent reading for the first 15 minutes after lunch. A lot of teachers mentioned that they missed having DEAR as part of our school day, so I thought this could be an awesome opportunity to do something special for Sleep Week.
I made these “Drop Everything And Rest (DEAR)” posters and posted them in each classroom. With the support of our incredible faculty, we brought DEAR back in a way that was aligned to our Sleep Week goals:
Each day throughout Sleep Week, students would take a 15 minute rest following their lunch period. During this time, they had a choice of the following options:
😴 Take a power nap
📗 Read a book
😐 Be bored!
The last one might seem a little silly but the reality is that kids don’t have a lot of opportunity to be bored these days! Boredom can be relaxing and can boost creativity, so we encouraged students to let themselves daydream a little during this dedicated time in the day.
Although most classes chose to let students pick their DEAR time activity, a few opted to include some meditation in the tail end of each session. To support this, I encouraged teachers to sign up for a free Calm account so that they could access the platforms amazing guided meditation resources. Even if it was just a two minute session, this was a great way to introduce meditation to our young students and help them begin to develop a practice.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the learning targets for Sleep Week focused on having students adopt healthy sleep habits.
To support them in this goal, I designed a Super Sleep Cheat Sheet that they could use to create an action plan for better sleep.
The sheet featured a set of six strategies students could apply in order to improve the quality of their sleep. It also featured a guided reflection tool to help them create a healthy bedtime routine. This included having them think about:
Parents were encouraged to sit down with their kids to go through this reflection together. Parental support was so vital for this activity as – well – I had no way of being there with the students at home!
Finally, the sheet featured a simple, emoji-based reflection system so that students could rate their sleep each morning and be mindful of the impact the changes to their habits was having on their sleep!
So that’s it for part five of the Health Month mini-series! With this, the breakdown of my Health Month initiative is complete!
Over the years, Health Month became an important part of our school and had a powerful impact on our school’s community. It was exciting to see how the initiative continued to evolve and became embedded into our school’s culture. My hope is that – through this series – you can begin to bring the same kind of change to your school, your students, and your community.
If you’re interested in bringing Health Month to your school, be sure to check out the Health Month Teacher Pack in which I have included all of the resources I designed for this year’s initiative (along with parent email templates). This includes:
Once again, thanks for reading and happy teaching! 🙌