Full-time childcare centers for kids aged five and under normally have at least one regularly scheduled daily rest time. This time for napping and relaxation is vital for a young child’s physical and emotional well-being. Overly tired children become distracted and irritable in much the same way as sleep-deprived adults. The major difference is that young children can’t mask the symptoms of fatigue with willpower and caffeine the way many adults do. Instead, they tend to act out with tantrums, meltdowns, and aggression when they don’t get enough sleep.
So what can your daycare staff do to help ensure that your facility is providing an adequate rest time for the kids in your care? Here are a few tips.
Include Active Play & Exercise into the Schedule
If children are mostly sedentary throughout the day, they may not feel ready to take a nap. That’s one reason, among many, why it’s important to get your daycare kids up and moving around. They’ll have fun actively playing in a safe, supervised environment. Structured activities that involve motion will help both the naturally energetic as well as the naturally more sedate children to get the exercise they need to facilitate better rest.
Make Allowances For Each Child’s Unique Rest Needs
Though children, on average, need more rest than adults do, the exact amount of sleep needed will vary from child to child. If you have some children who never fall asleep or are constantly waking up early from naptime earlier than most of the other kids, consider having an area for them to engage in quiet play while the other children continue to rest. For example, they could work on puzzles, look at books, or listen to music with headphones. You may also have some children who need much more sleep than the rest of the group typically will. Try to set up a quiet area that is still well supervised where those who want longer naps can get enough rest to feel refreshed.
Set Up A Daily Rest Time Plan
Routine is key to helping your daycare children establish regular rest patterns. You could settle the kids down each day with a story time right before they lie down to nap. Or perhaps play a recording of some soothing nature sounds and have the kids close their eyes with the lights dimmed. It makes sense to provide some downtime right before their nap so children will feel calm and ready for peace and quiet. Keeping the rest area in the same location and at relatively the same time of day will also help children know what to expect and get used to regular periods of rest.
Allow Comfort Items to Help Children Feel More Comfortable
As long as a child is one year old or older it’s normally safe and often helpful to allow them to bring a comfort item to daycare to use during nap time. Many children are attached to special blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals that they like to cuddle to help them settle down and rest.
Well-rested children are happier children. When you plan adequate rest time for your daycare center schedule, you can expect to see improvement in the overall mood and atmosphere of the facility as well as in the individual lives of those under your care.