Friday, September 18, 2009

Quiet Time Activities

Most programs have two caregivers with 10 toddlers (sometimes more or less depending on state regulations). In that group of ten there is often a balance between younger and older toddlers; leaving you, the teacher, with two groups of children.

One groups still naps twice a day, the other group has graduated to one longish nap mid-day. What to do? Well, the goal is toward more independence. We all know that as the children in the younger group mature they will eventually phase-out the morning naps. So we need to plan our programs to accommodate the individual sleep schedules but also follow the schedule most of the children will one day follow and some of them already do, this is best practice. But it's not easy to do.

What does this mean exactly? Do we keep young toddlers (who are obviously in need of sleep) up until their older peers are ready to nap? NO.
Following the individual sleep schedules of your children is a very important piece of providing a nurturing home~like environment. Rushing young children who most likely only come two or three days to your program, through what their body is in need of (two naps) is not recommended.
Follow the lead of your children.
Yes, it would be helpful to have only a few children or three adults, but if you are like many programs, these scenarios are of a luxury nature.

In my classroom, I have prepared the environment to include several cozy 'nooks' for morning nappers. There are two caregivers and eight toddlers presently. I use my observation skills and the information that parents give me, to access the young toddler's need for a morning snooze. Because it is the nature of the younger toddler to play and explore solo and the older toddler is beginning to look to other children for interactions; the younger child is less likely to "get caught up in play" and disregard their body's need for sleep. More often the young toddler will choose to watch and settle down in a cozy spot to see the other children play and explore. Their first choice of places to do this is always a caregiver's lap. However, as those of use who do this work know, this is not always a possibility. And that is okay, at home with older siblings and busy schedules, it is not always a possibility either. But it must be able to happen at least 50% of the time it is needed. If we are always up moving about, we are moving too much.
So, your young toddler has fallen asleep while others are busy at play? Most likely they will rise when you have just gotten the other older friends down for their naps. :)
The key to success is to have things ready before your day even starts! I call them "Grab and Go" activities. Baskets or bags that contain activities or works that come out during these moments. You know: Quiet things to do. Felt board stories, care of the environment exercises (ex: chair scrubbing, window washing, plant care). A few pictures from our week.

Between naps...while other friends are napping:

Please share....what quiet activities do you do while children are napping?


Annette said...

both of my girls ages 3 and 2 nap from 1-4 everyday and have for a long while now so I don't have to struggle too much with one being quiet for the other. I do plan on having another kid in the future so I will have to learn and gather some quiet activities eventually. I am interested in your felt/pom pom tray. I do allow my girls to practice sweeping the pom poms. Chasing Cheerios blog has her child do a lot of sorting and things to work on fine motor skills. These allow the kid to work and concentrate on something for a while. said...

Did you try beading? Give some craft wire and big hole pony beads.Hopefully they do not put them in their mouth when no one is noticing them. Or give some yarns with the end stiffend with glue and dyed macaroni beads. This will not be too critical even if they eat a few of them. Making necklaces with cheerios also help.

In summer, I also used a bowl with sudsy soapy water, some small utensils and a little drain board. My daughter spent hours washing the utensils and drying them. Soon she felt calm and came to her own rug and fell asleep.

Where in the World?


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