Sleep and rest needs are individual to each child and, regardless of age or developmental stage, sleep requirements vary from child to child. When choosing a child care centre, questions about sleep and rest are also many and varied depending upon the values, cultural and parenting beliefs of the individual family but generally include;
- Where do the children rest/sleep? Within their normal classroom space or in a dedicated sleep room? This will generally vary depending on the age of the children being cared for.
- What do the children rest/sleep on? Cots, stretcher style beds and thin (usually vinyl covered) mattresses are common choices in child care centres, again depending upon the age of the children in question.
- Who supplies linen and what is the washing routine? Do families take bedding home to be laundered or is it done at the Centre?
- Is there a fixed, routine time when all children are expected to rest/sleep? This is most common for children over the age of two years who are more likely to only require one rest/sleep time each day.
- What about children who are obviously tired and need to nap outside of the scheduled time? How are their needs accommodated and how are they supervised?
- For children under two, who most obviously have different routines and therefore nap times, who settles and supervises the children who are asleep at times when others are awake and playing?
- What arrangements are made for children who do not sleep? Quiet, independent play experiences are commonly offered to older children who do not sleep.
- How are children who are resting/sleeping supervised?
- What is the routine for transitioning the children from play to rest time?
- What settling techniques do staff use? This might include reading a story as children settle to rest/sleep, playing relaxing music or a recorded story during the rest period, sitting beside an individual child as they settle, or even patting their back or stroking their forehead.
- What is the best way for us, as a family, to provide information to staff about our child’s rest/sleep needs? This might include information about sleep times, settling routines and the use of comforters, like a soft toy, dummy or bottle before sleep.
- Does the Centre maintain a record which identifies the rest or sleep times for each child, each day? Where is this record kept for parents to access?
This is the final ABC of Child Care post, you can find the previous posts here. Thanks to the suggestion of a Childhood 101 reader, I am intending to compile all of the posts into one PDF document which will be available shortly. I wish you all of the best in choosing the best care option for you child. Always remember, we all share a responsibility to ask questions and expect results when it comes to the environment and people caring for and educating our children 🙂