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Health from a Science Perspective

This month we're releasing four of the lessons from our new health curriculum into the full site access. They are all intended to be used by families during this season when many of us are changing schedules and routines.

  • Habits

  • Sleep

  • Thinking About the Future (this one is an informal conversation with Dr. Robin)

  • Safety

In schools, health class is usually separated entirely from science, taught by a PE teacher rather than the science teacher. We believe this has led many people to think of health and the human body as not-quite-science. Additionally, much of what we know about the brain is very recent and there is a lot we still don't know--which makes the science so much more exciting! It's science that's happening right now.

This month's lessons will be looking at topics that are typically "shoulds" in our lives ("you should sleep more, you should have good habits, you should wear a bike helmet") and breaks them down into the science. Why do we form habits? And how? Why do we need to sleep? What happens while we sleep? Why do we make safe choices and how?

Extension Activities for Home

After watching the lesson on habits, talk about some habits your family already has in place.

  • Choose a habit that is easy for your kids (this could be anything from washing hands after using the bathroom to collapsing on the sofa after walking in the door). What makes it easy to do? What happens right before that reminds you to do it? Is everything ready to go so no extra effort is needed to set up? Does it happen the same way every time? Is there a built in "reward" for doing it?

  • Now think of a habit that is more of a challenge. What makes it hard? Is it difficult to remember? A pain to get set up? Unpleasant to carry out?

  • I've found it useful to model habit change for my kids. I choose something simple and small (the first step to good habit formation is picking something that's not too hard!) As I work on the habit, I update my kids with what I'm doing to increase success. What is the trigger to remind me? What do I have already set up and ready to go? And I tell them about my struggles too. When I forget to do my habit or don't feel like it. How I get through that.

After watching the lesson on sleep, it can be fun to try to map out what's happening in your child's body a certain number of hours into sleep--this can make it obvious why they need as much sleep as they do!

  • Figure out how many hours of sleep your child usually gets and draw that out on a piece of paper in the form of a timeline

  • Based on how many hours of sleep you know your child needs, approximate when different functions of sleep are happening. This clearly shows that the final hours of sleep are critical for most of the important processes happening over night.

The lesson on Thinking About the Future is a little different than usual. In this one, Dr. Robin chats about the topic from the perspective of someone who mentors kids, college and medical students, and other physicians.

  • How has each child been "packed", what do they bring with them, what skills and passions and traits? Remember that struggles and weaknesses are typically the flip side of strengths. I have always been strong-willed, a very challenging trait for my mom. That also means that I'm persistent and not easily swayed from what I know is right. Often the qualities that are the most difficult to handle in a child are what make the best adults.

I intentionally focused on a framework for safety decision-making rather than giving safety rules. Understanding the importance of the body part we are protecting is important when making safety decisions.

  • What is one of your family's safety rules? What part of the body are you protecting? Why? How does the rule protect that part? What would happen if that part were injured? [Hint: It's best to start with a safety rule that's a "no-brainer" for your kids before discussing one they tend to disagree about.]

Our hope is that this month's lessons will be a part of the ongoing conversations in your own family!

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