It’s funny how two separate news stories written from completely different angles are relevant to each other.

The new national curriculum announced for state schools in England today will make five year olds start tackling fractions and computer algorithms. The government says it is to make our schools as good as those in any place in the world. It also will put stronger emphasis on essay writing, problem solving, maths modelling and computer work.

However, reliable research also published today suggests that a UK study of more than 11,000 seven year olds shows that those with no regular bedtime, and especially those who went later to bed than 9pm, had lower scores for reading and maths. Their sleep patterns and brain power were directly effected by lax bedtime routines and late nights.

Putting these two stories together it clearly demonstrates that we are, as a society, loosening the discipline needed for children’s health and the rigour needed for good parenting thereby weakening children’s ability to learn.  Then, on the other hand, putting more pressure at a younger age on children to learn more skills that require sharpness, strong body rhythms and good sleep patterns that are essential for growth and healthy cognitive performance.

The research from University College London suggested that inconsistent bedtimes may be a reflection of chaotic family situations. These, to my mind, are chronic problems that we live with today given the distractions of television, social media and the internet that all conspire to establish erratic and unhealthy lifestyles for children.

So here we are again, with the left hand not being very helpful to the right hand . . .

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