My love for summer is unconditional. I love the warm weather, the sun, and the sense of freedom that accompanies this season. My children and I try to enjoy as many activities as possible outside: meals, crafts, reading...and naptime. Children appreciate stepping out of their regular routine every now and then to enjoy new experiences. Today, I would like to encourage you to organize an outdoor naptime for your group. Summer is the perfect time to reap the many benefits of sleeping outside. As you know, fresh air is beneficial for children's immune system. What's more, sleeping outside may increase the quality of their sleep and their general mood, not to mention the fact that sleeping outside is fun...mainly because it's not something we do every day. Here are a few tricks that will help children appreciate outdoor naptime.
- Pick the ideal spot. Obviously, sleeping directly in the sun in 90-degree weather is a bad idea. Pick a shady corner where there is a light wind. Children will sleep like babies. If you have a tent, set it up in your yard. They will absolutely love sleeping in it.
- Prepare children. Inform them ahead of time that you are planning to have them nap outside. Some children need to know what to expect. Naptime remains a very important part of your daily routine and any change affecting naptime may "irritate" certain children.
- Gather all your necessities and encourage children to help you prepare for outdoor naptime. They will enjoy helping you bring blankets, naptime mattresses, music, etc. outside. Make sure all the elements normally present for naptime indoors are available outside.
- Are there children in your group who have difficulty adapting to change? Start with smaller steps. You may, for instance, present story time, snack time, or the relaxation period that precedes naptime outside. Gradually, children will be ready to sleep outside.
- Due to the importance of naptime, try to start outdoor naptime at the same time children usually sleep indoors. Respecting this aspect of your routine may make falling asleep outside easier for children.
- Don't forget to plan so you have enough time to apply sunscreen. Even if children will be sleeping in a shady area and under blankets, UV rays can cause sunburns.
- Be patient. Your first attempt may not be successful. Let children slowly get used to the idea. After a few tries, I am sure they will love sleeping outside!
Maude Dubé, Specialized educator