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Rest Time in a classroom

  • 1.  Rest Time in a classroom

    Posted 11-16-2018 04:51 PM
    We are doing full day programming for the first time this year and are struggling with rest time.  We have children bring a beach towel to lay on.  At this time, cots are not in the budget.  We dim the lights and play relaxing music.  Rest time is 45 minutes.  I would love to hear any advice on how to help our students relax and be more comfortable.  Thank you!

    April Ballard
    SR Coordinator and Teacher
    School Readiness
    Thief River Falls MN

  • 2.  RE: Rest Time in a classroom

    Posted 11-17-2018 10:11 AM
    Hi April,
    Rest time is such an interesting topic. - I feel it gets little attention in our field.

    A goal for your program could be to ask the parents to pay an additional fee (such as $30) for rest mats.  It really does help to have a consistent quality material to set up daily. We recently made this transition from nursery school (morning program) to a full day license. We bought the lovely green/beige rest mats from community play things.  You can tell the parents they can take their rest mat with them when they leave the program or they can donate it back to the school.  Most parents will donate it back and then over the course of a couple years you will have a nice collection of a quality material.

    Another help is to purchase a bunch of pillow cases and we stuff all the rest items children bring into a pillow case with their name on it.  This way children can find their own pillow case and help with set up. The pillow case also protects all the items from touching one another when they are stored away.  It acts as a "tote" and we send it home with the children with all their rest items inside regularly for laundry and ask them to return it on Monday.

    With these two organizational details in place, you can begin to involve the children in set up and clean up - but just getting organized at first is a monumental task.

    As early childhood teachers, I have noticed we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and on our children during rest time. We have high expectations - we want to get some planning done, we want kids to settle down and rest independently, we want to give teachers lunch breaks, etc.  I have found that we can't do all these things.  So, being clear about your expectations is helpful.  If we want kids to be calm and restful we need to provide that same expectation to teachers.  This is often the struggle, right? Its so ironic that rest time becomes stress time.  That's what I've been thinking about lately.  You are not alone in your struggle and your important goal to do rest time well.

    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Annandale on Hudson NY

  • 3.  RE: Rest Time in a classroom

    Posted 11-17-2018 01:32 PM
    April, I just addressed the issue of helping children relax for rest time in my NAEYC conference session.

    The first two phases of the transition to nap time are critical. We can't expect children to go from activity to inactivity simply because we say it's time. So, we need to give them ample notice that a shift is coming. Then, to help them begin to relax, ask them to go to their beach towels as though they were bears lumbering to hibernation, a car running out of gas, a balloon deflating and coming in for a landing, or something similar.

    Once there, lead a relaxation exercise by inviting them to pretend to be melting ice cream, or a balloon slowly inflating (through the nose) and slowly deflating (through the mouth). Another option is to have them first pretend to be statues and then to be rag dolls. Alternate a few times, always ending with the rag dolls.

    Most people don't realize that relaxation is a learned skill -- and it's an especially important one, with children experiencing considerable stress in their lives.

    I do hope you'll be able to find the funding for mats or cots soon, as they're sure to be more comfortable than beach towels. But, in the meantime, these transition ideas should help!

    Rae Pica
    Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting
    Alexandria VA

  • 4.  RE: Rest Time in a classroom

    Posted 11-18-2018 09:50 AM
    Rae, I love this important message that learning to relax is a learned skill.  Thoughtful transition activities are key.  Teachers need this message too, and this permission to transition and slow down is essential !    Do you address transitioning to rest in one of your books?  I will visit your website and send you a message! Such an important time of the day - especially in our culture of busy and rush!

    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Annandale on Hudson NY

  • 5.  RE: Rest Time in a classroom

    Posted 11-19-2018 09:56 AM
    Carol, the ideas I presented come from my book Teachable Transitions. It's been around for a little while, but the activities are still relevant!

    I also offer ideas for transitions, active learning, preventing behavior challenges, and more on my YouTube channel "Active Learning with Rae."

    Rae Pica
    Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting
    Alexandria VA

  • 6.  RE: Rest Time in a classroom

    Posted 11-20-2018 05:32 PM
    Have you looked into batting or foam from a local fabric supply store to use as a cheaper alternative to cots and a short term solution? Watch the sales at stores like Joann fabrics or others.

    You can still lay the blanket over it, but it will be more comfortable and (dare I say) fun to lie on. Children love the sensation of foam or batting and it could be used for other things as well - balancing on- or in a cozy corner -

    Warning- its a short term idea....I used to use foam shelf liners as yoga mats for my preschool movement classes to save costs. They lasted about 5 yrs before I had to replace.

    Good luck!

    Mary Lynn Hafner, PT, DPT

    Physical Therapist.
    Early Childhood Educator and Author.

  • 7.  RE: Rest Time in a classroom

    Posted 11-18-2018 05:53 AM
    Carol Murray you made a great point. Transition between active and quiet can be difficult for children (and adults as well!). The "transition activities" you suggest are great. Introducing Yoga to the children and making a couple of minutes of Yoga along with music designed for relaxation (it doesn't need to be "children's music" either) might help. In CT programs serving children are required to have cots... CT REG # 19a-79-7a. Physical plant
    Adequate equipment for rest shall be provided. An
    individual cot shall be provided for any child
    who regularly remains five (5) hours or longer
    per day. When cots are shared, they shall be
    washed and disinfected and linens changed between
    children. In a group day care home (Group day Care Home = 6-12 children in CT), an
    individual mat or individual sleeping bag may be substituted for the individual cot."
      Simple as is built into everyone's budget. A beach towel on a hard floor is simply not comfortable and I am surprised that your State allows it. Rest does not necessarily mean sleep either. Try some relaxation activities, allow the children to choose a book or two, put music on, dim lights and see how it works. Also give the children some time to adjust to this "new" classroom routine.

    Karin King
    Education Consultant
    Trumbull CT

  • 8.  RE: Rest Time in a classroom

    Posted 11-18-2018 04:49 PM
    Rest time can be a challenging time for teachers and children.  I have some children in my class that do not sleep and are actually uncomfortable with the idea of laying down for an extended period of time with the lights off. For those children we provide them quiet time activities like books or puzzles.  I even let some of them color on white boards or draw pictures with markers and paper.  It's also important for children to realize that they will be able to eventually get up and play and that they aren't going to have to lay down for the rest of the day. Having a timer helps with this because it shows them how much time they have left.

    Ashley Byers
    Flint MI

  • 9.  RE: Rest Time in a classroom

    Posted 11-19-2018 01:31 PM
    I have a few suggestions to try!

    For our older children, many of whom no longer sleep at nap time, we usually tell one "on your cot" story- either using a CD or YouTube story or if the teacher is up to it, a made up story. That takes up 5-10 minutes of the rest time where the kids have something to focus on.

    One teacher, after story time, did something he called "pillow chat," where he would go to each child's cot and whisper talk with them for a few minutes about their day, or what they planned to do during afternoon free play, or whatever the child wanted to talk about.

    To echo some of the other suggestions here- quiet time activities are key! It is good practice for kiddos to have some time out of the day where they play solo- we have little bins will puzzles, legos, magnet boards, and whiteboards and markers for our non sleepers, and they can have them after 20-30 min of quiet resting.

    In addition to deep breathing and yoga practice, find some big body movement for children to do- it can be very calming. Whether it's helping move the furniture out of the way for towels/cots, pushing on walls to make the room bigger, carrying something heavy from one end of the room to another- that big muscle movement can really calm bodies down!

    Lily Crooks
    Seward Child Care Center
    Minneapolis MN

  • 10.  RE: Rest Time in a classroom

    Posted 11-24-2018 04:50 PM
    Definitely begin by reviewing your state's licensing requirements.  It will list how long they must have time actually quiet and on their cots; and if you have to have cots. There are regulations about how sleeping materials must be cleaned, so foam mats are not suitable in many places.

    After you are sure you are meeting requirements (including Head Start or NAEYC Accreditation standards if you are in either of those categories) then consider your child's full morning and afternoon plans in order to make Nap Time a logical part of the day for the children.  Consider what we know about helping people sleep best: limit screen time, avoid sugary foods and caffeine, have a quiet routine before it such as cleaning lunch up, brushing teeth, toilet time, and books quietly on cots until a certain time. Make sure there is a visual picture calendar of the entire school day, and use it to show them often what comes after nap that leads towards families returning to bring them home.

    Most important are the routines, the way you TEACH self-regulation and mindfulness, and the planning that you make with parents as partners. Family and teachers must help the children understand that teachers will create safe space while they sleep, and that they will still be going home to their family at the end of the school day every day.

    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL