Naptime is a period in the day when children rest for a short time. For children who have difficulty napping, this may be a time when problem behaviours arise. As with all transitions, naptime should have a basic routine attached to it to make this experience as smooth and positive as possible.
As a parent, teacher or early childhood professional, the following strategies provide some tips to get your child ready for naptime and support him during the nap period.
Before Nap Time
- Use visuals to show the daily schedule so your child can anticipate when naptime will occur throughout the day.
- All children need some time to “wind down” before they go onto their beds. This could be done with a story, quiet songs, or some gentle stretching exercises. Using slow, low music and soft voices also help.
- The routine leading up to naptime should be the same everyday.
- The room should be cool and dark, or with dim lighting to provide a more comfortable and relaxing atmosphere. Different lighting also indicates that naptime is very different from other play activities.
- Some children may need to have a soft toy, a favourite blanket, or pillow to settle them and use at every nap time.
- Back rubs and gentle pats on the back work wonders on children that may have difficulty resting.
During Naptime in Groups
- Each child should have a consistent, designated sleep area with the child’s name or picture on the bed.
- Send children to bed in small groups thereby limiting the chaos of many children trying to settle at one time.
- Keep in mind the children who are light sleepers or are restless when trying to sleep. Spread them around the room so they do not disturb other children.
- For children who do not nap, designate an area where quiet activities take place at a table or on a carpet. If possible, a designated “awake” classroom should be considered. The children can look at books or have access to quiet toys or activities, such as:
- lego or other small building toys (e.g., kinex or straws)
- soft squishy materials such as shaving cream, flour, jello in a sealed tight baggie
- quiet story time with the teacher
Prepare a bucket of these items before each sleep time so that you are not scrambling to find things for the children to do.
With a little good planning and strategizing, nap time will soon become a pleasant and restful time for everyone.