In The Little Book of Restorative Discipline for Schools, Stutzman-Amstutz and Mullet note the importance of a “…holistic perspective that sees all aspects of behavior as related.” In that spirit, restorative conferencing facilitators and Circle keepers may consider the following questions as part of restorative process. Unhealthy behaviors around sleep, food and physical activity may contribute to youth’s engagement in harmful behaviors. Posing these questions may add depth to and provide ideas for positive actions to include in a conferencing or circle agreement.
Are youth getting enough sleep? Due to shifting biological needs, teens need nine and one-fourth hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation can:
Limit the ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems.
Lead to extreme moodiness, depression and/or aggressive behavior.
Cause craving for unhealthy, high-calorie, high-fat foods.
Are youth getting adequate nutrition? Even moderate under-nutrition can have lasting effects and compromise cognitive development and school performance:
Students with the lowest protein in their diet had the lowest achievement scores.
Students with iron deficiency had shortened attention span, irritability, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
Students who miss breakfast tend to have poor attention.
Improving student nutrition can have a marked positive effect on attendance and classroom discipline.
Improving student nutrition can lead to improved academic performance, particularly in math.
Obese students are often the target of bullying and often suffer from low self-esteem.
Are youth getting enough physical activity? Students who regularly engage in physical activity tend to have:
Improved memory and concentration.
Improved classroom behavior.
Improved test scores.
Decreased stress and anxiety.
A restorative process is an opportunity to build up strengths, assets and protective factors in youth. Helping a youth make simple changes in their sleep, food and physical activity can, as this enumeration shows, increase overall resilience, behavior and aid in academic achievement.
Medina, J. 2008. Brain Rules, Seattle, WA, Pear Press. Brainrules.
Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), Minnesota Department of Health Ship Health reform.
Stutzman Amstutz, L. & Mullet, J.H. (2005). The Little Book of Restorative Discipline for Schools: Teaching responsibility; creating caring climates. Intercourse, PA, Good Books. GoodBooks.
For further information, contact Nancy Riestenberg, School Climate Specialist, Minnesota Department of Education, 651-582-8433, firstname.lastname@example.org.