Naptime and preparing for kindergarten
Slowly, during summer months, we help prepare older children for kindergarten. There is nothing like the sense of accomplishment an early childhood feels as she says "goodbye" to a child for the last time, knowing he is perfectly ready for school.
Today, let's discuss naptime. For some 4 and 5-year-olds, naptime slowly transitions to a simple relaxation period. Their sleep requirements gradually change and they no longer need to sleep to have enough energy for afternoon activities. However, for others, their afternoon nap remains very important. Their 4-year-old body still requires many hours of sleep. My daughter was part of this category of children. Even just a few days before she began kindergarten, she still enjoyed a two-hour nap every afternoon and this nap did not affect her bedtime at all. Like many parents in the same situation, I worried about how she would function at school. We survived without too many hiccups, but I must say that she came home extremely tired during her first few weeks of school.
Teachers will tell you that it is normal for children to be tired at the end of their school day during the first weeks of kindergarten. Not only are children adapting to a completely new routine, but for many, kindergarten rhymes with longer, more demanding days. As early childhood educators, how can we prepare children while they are still attending daycare? How can we help ensure the transition from daycare to kindergarten is a smooth one?
First, it's important to mention that a relaxation period is part of the daily schedule in most kindergarten classes. Although this relaxation period may be shorter than the one children enjoyed in daycare, it will provide children with an opportunity to rest and regain strength so they can participate in afternoon activities.
There are two schools of thought when it comes down to transitioning away from naptime. Some wait until children begin kindergarten while others slowly reduce the duration of naptime. No matter which method you choose, you must be comfortable with your decision. What's more, discussing the situation with parents is very important. Ideally, decide what is best for their child together.
If you decide to wait until children begin kindergarten, they will be able to adapt. They may find afternoons difficult during the first weeks of school, but they will quickly get used to their new schedule. Parents may notice that their child is tired in the evenings. An earlier bedtime can help.
If you choose to gradually decrease the duration of naptime, you can establish a plan. Slowly cut naptime by 10-15 minutes at a time to give children the chance to get used to sleeping less during the day. Slowly turn the lights on and let children who are awake enjoy calm activities within your daycare. This will help others wake up on their own. Make sure the change is progressive during the weeks leading up to the start of kindergarten and you will be impressed with how quickly children adapt.
Enjoy the end of summer with your group!