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Rest routines in early childhood

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By Chelsey Comments (8)

Hello I was just wondering what other centres and teachers do out there in terms of rest routines in their centres? This is not predominatly sleep routines, but more along the lines of having a rest time for children after lunch, espeically for children who don't sleep and are in childcare full time. I currently work at a mixed aged centre, and would like to incorporate a rest time into our centre programme, but was looking for ideas, research articles and information on this, so I can introduce it to my team. 

Thanks :)


  • Chelsey

    yes that's true, I guess I'm looking more at the transitioning routines for children going to bed after lunch, as currently in the programme, the other teachers run a music and movement session straight after lunch which is great but hard when you need to transiton children off to bed, when they have are hyped up, or you are tyring to get children to sleep, and the noise level rises, because of these movement sessions. We are a very small mixed aged centre, with a small enviornment, so everything happening in the main play area, can be heard in the sleep room and appears to sound noiser in there too.

    thanks again for your input and your ideas Ann :)


  • Ann Hatherly

    Hi Chelsey I am not working in a centre but I get to see a lot of different centre practice. Those who do this time of day well tend to work from the principle that children's need for rest during the day varies according to individual rhythms - just as it does for adults. They therefore offer a range of options from sleeping though to physically and intellectually challenging group activities. With smaller numbers this can be an opportune time for teachers to have longer conversations with children too. 

    If you are thinking of having a 'rest time' for everyone, the question I would be asking is: whose interest is this serving - children's or teachers?

  • Belinda Williams

    Hi Chelsey, I hear where your coming from, running a music & movement session around the sleeptime routine or when you want to encourage rest times would be a challenge (but easy enough to change??) Having a small mixed centre must be challenging too. We are lucky to have a big outside covered area and set the environment up so the older children can choose quiet activities like board games, art activities, story time and have calm areas set up outside (weather permitting) so children can rest in the garden if they wish too. (and sometimes sleep there) We also play soft calming music in the sleeproom, which seems to help lessen the busy noise going on outside the room. All our full day 2 & some 3 year olds sleep and this is determined by their parents wishes & by teacher judgement. They are there to rest and the teacher will read a quiet story or they listen to the music and most of the time fall asleep. After 1/2hr those that aren't asleep can go back out and play. Ann's question has sparked some interesting discussion here..teachers versus childrenCool

  • Chelsey

    kia ora Belina, thank you very much for your ideas from what you do at your centre, 

  • Chelsey

    opps sorry hadn't finished replying, I really like the ideas that you incorporate at your centre, I have seen other centres bring out quiet experiences to encourage quiet/rest time like board games, puzzles, and calming activites and really liked it. I suppose another good point or topic for discussion this brings up, is there too many routines that we are trying to incorporate in the child's day? As currently we have a group time at 11.30, one for the older children and one for the toddlers, and then we have lunch,  and music and movement after lunch.I f we were too change the time of the music and movement session, and have a rest transitioning time after lunch, would there be too many routines interupting the child's free play throughout the day? would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this :)

  • Jocelyn Wright

    Hi Chelsea. I too work in a mixed aged setting with a large number of children aged under 3 years and find the time directly after lunch to be the most problematic/hectic. For us it is a time when  tecahers can be busy with gradually taking full day younger children to the sleep room, some children need to prepare to be collected by 1pm, and teachers are also trying to fit in their lunch breaks. We just remove all 'scheduling' over a period of about an hour or so and make sure teachers are sitting on the floor in different areas, including outdoors as we find the sandpit is a very relaxing space for our older children in particular. It becomes a quiet time by default as children and teachers just enjoy 'floor play' together. Sometimes reading books, singing, playing with blocks, puzzles or whatever the children fancy (eg. laying on the floor and looking at the walls and ceilings is quite a lot of fun). There is no pressure to 'do' anything other than enjoy being together - lots of hugs and cuddles and even rocking of children happens during this time. Seems to work for us at present, for both teachers and children. Something to think about - do you need to make the group times (eg. music and movement) a whole group time? Can this group experience be offered for those who want to join in? We find that children have times they want to be part of group experiences and times they don't. Compulsion just adds to tensions for staff and children. After lunch there are already many tensions. 

  • Chelsey

    kia ora Jocelyn thanks for your insight and ideas, I will take all of these ideas and perhaps share them at a staff meeting and see what everyone's thoughts are. A

  • Chelsey

    As I find the tme after lunch quite hectic and stressful as well, and would like to create a sense of calm after lunch, rather than the chaotic feeling, that is quite often experienced in early childhood settings.