Believe it or not, the role that exposure to natural light plays in improving sleep patterns is so important, that coaches working with elite sports competitors stress exposure to the right levels of light. More daylight means the receptors at the back of eye are able to keep body clocks in synchronisation with the daily fluctuations in daylight and nighttime, bearing in mind that, even when the weather is bad, the level of light outdoors is 100 times higher than light indoors.
The flip side of this is that you should aim to cut out exposure to light at night, as far as it’s possible to do so, especially when living in the centre of a city that never sleeps! Experts also suggest that being exposed to more sunlight in the morning might reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and result in deeper, less disrupted sleep.
So what does this mean for your child’s Mandarin practice?
1. Have you considered taking the work outside? Is there a quiet corner somewhere near to home for you and your child to concentrate on completing tasks in the open air?
2. How about taking a walk where you sing your favourite Mandarin songs at the same time, or play ‘I spy with my little eye’ games with key vocabulary in the surroundings?
3. On the way to class, if possible, why not get off the MTR or the bus one stop earlier and use the rest of the journey to engage in ‘Guess which word I’m thinking of? ‘ or play rhyming games.
4. Aim to encourage other parents to join you on a regular basis to practise and play in natural surroundings such as a park.
5. Consider whether you need to upgrade the curtains/ blinds in the bedroom to exclude intrusive light in the evening and night time. Before your child goes to sleep, you should also ensure that their sleep environment is cool, dark and free from clutter and technology.
If you can’t manage all 5 strategies, starting with one is also a step forward to maximising your child’s readiness for learning. Creating multi-sensory activities also helps your child to engage in active learning that can be more powerful and lasting!