Sleep, Organization, and Your Child’s Mind

Sleep, Organization, and Your Child's Mind |

I was thinking of how to optimize my kiddos’ ability to learn, but I wanted to improve the processes already in place rather than making them learn something to improve the way they learn something. Yeah, the common sense just isn’t there for me.

The two factors that I felt I could work on were ensuring their restfulness and cleanliness.

I will start with the cleanliness.

I know there’s a difference in the way my kids function when the house is messy versus when it’s spotless. I further knew that there had to, somewhere, be scientific evidence to prove it. Well, I found it, and it affects the mind more than I thought.

I discovered Robert Cohen’s The Development of Spatial Cognition and decided that deep cleaning every time is the only way to go for me. Here’s why:

“Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment”

It was a study done over two decades ago. In the gathering of information, the observers gave organized homes high scores. Organized = relevance in both location and utility according to a family’s set schedule. Conversely, low scores were given to untidy homes, where routine activity occurs haphazardly in location and timing. These scores were then applied to an assessment of children of ages 3-1/2 and 4. Check this out:

“Those [pre-schoolers] from homes that had been given high ratings on the organization measure had significantly higher IQ scores than children from low-scoring, messy homes.”

A higher intelligence quotient. Really.

I’ve always been a master multi-tasker. Objective: Getting lots of things done in a big ball of done-ness. This method has lost both its appeal and its effectiveness. I’m trying my best to get a handle on the one-thing-at-a-time approach. I guess in cleaning, I’m going from macro to micro.

I like sleep. I think sleep is amazing. But, I don’t have excellent sleeping habits. We keep our kids on schedule, but when it comes to us… occupying the back burner would be an improvement.

“It is recommended that infants (three to 11 months) get 14 to 15 hours of nightly sleep, while toddlers get 12 to 14 hours, children in pre-school 11-13 hours and school-aged children between 10-11 hours. Adolescents are advised to get nine hours of nightly sleep and adults seven to eight hours.” –Science Daily.

Okay, fine. But what happens to their minds if that doesn’t happen?

I took this directly from the Department of Philosophy at Goteborg University:

Fatigue Block

This is a brilliant summation of everything I wanted to know.  What our kids feel (subjective) juxtaposed with what we see (objective) when they are not adequately rested.

Take these things into account. That’s all. Be incredibly mindful of how they’re learning first… then move on to the what.  If you do, the minds of the kids in our lives will become more prepared for pretty much anything that comes their way.

I have only listed restfulness and cleanliness as external factors in our kids’ attainment of information.  What other perpetual conditions can you think of for us to collectively improve for the sake of mind function?


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  1. Wow. This information confirms what I’ve experienced in my own life. I’ve always been the type of person that can’t think clearly or concentrate when there is disorder and chaos around me. Up until now I always perceived that this was some sort of weakness on my part, that my mind was just unable to keep up and multi-task the way others could. Very interesting stuff. I’m enjoying this extension of Simple Mom by the way!

  2. My children and I function best when we are mindful of keeping good spirits. We can’t always enjoy what we are doing, we can’t always be talked to or related to by others in the most positive way, etc. However, we can choose to not let it go to our hearts or heads.

    Reminding ourselves that we choose what to let in, and how (meaning: do we just give them benefit of the doubt in regards to their intent, look at things from their perspective, just give them a pass because it’s obviously a bad day for them, etc.), has been very good at helping us to maintain a positive outlook and a positive outcome, in regards to these things.

    Life is what you make it.

    Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.

  3. Wow – this was a really timely post for me. I really struggle with keeping my house in decent (let alone good) shape when it comes to clutter and general cleanliness. I have been making a big effort to change this and, while I always knew it would be better for my kids, I never considered it from the perspective you put here. I would say that something else that I have always believes impacts kids’ attainment is by hands on, engaged, child-driven learning (making it fun or a game is a sure hit). Thanks for this blog – I’m glad that I discovered Simple Mom and now can benefit from Simple Kids!

  4. @Adrienne – I wrote this to motivate myself more, too. It was really a public pep-talk. My husband & I both get anxious when we see clutter, but it’s hard to put down the crayons to go scrub some dishes. 🙂 I hope you found this encouraging!

    @Suzanne – I agree completely. We try to ask our son how he’s feeling in the morning to make him consciously TRY to have a good day. We tell him that good moods don’t just happen — you have to make an effort to get there. Good call.

    @Brittany – I am so glad you mentioned the hands-on. The next few posts will concentrate on that exactly! Next week will be a lot of fun… tell your friends, it’ll be worth it next Friday (wink, wink).

    Thank you so much for your input & encouragement. This blogging thing is new to me (in a public sense) so I really appreciate all of your kind words.

  5. Another factor we try to watch carefully for our children is also the frequency and the quality of their food intake. My children function so much better when they have quality snacks at school and then, while they are doing homework, my son will often need to munch on some wholesome snack in order to sustain a protracted mental exertion. I have noticed very adverse effects if I happen to forget his snack (for whatever reason): he won’t be able to concentrate, will have muddled thought patterns, and things that normally are done very quickly slow to a crawl, amongst complaints, whines, etc. Then he eats and within 10 minutes he is able to resume and be much more productive. Mental functions are so affects by the quality of what we eat…

  6. Thanks for this post. I love all information related to sleep!

    Andrea’s last blog post..The amazing faith of a 5 year old