5 Proven Quiet Activities for Preschool Nap Time
Not every child will nap on schedule. Some days they’ll happily lie down and go straight to sleep. Other days they are restless and wide awake. Some children just don’t nap. Effective child care providers plan for individual differences in sleep and relaxation times.
It is essential to work in partnership with parents to get input about what happens for their children at home and to share your routines for nap/quiet times. Family involvement enhances wellbeing and reduces anxiety for children around sleeping in a different environment. Talk about nap/quiet time with children then stick to your routine so they know what to expect. Older children can discuss why they need to sleep to be healthy and how resting gives them energy.
Slow down the activities before nap time. Transition to sleep time in a familiar way - dim the lights, diffuse some lavender oil, organise the sleep environment – mats/cushions/blankets. There is however, no way to force a child to sleep.
We asked educators to share their favourite quiet time activities for children who think they don’t want to sleep. Here are their top 5-
Read With Your Eyes/Let Your Ears Listen
Encourage children to “rest their eyes” and provide a range of rest time reading books for them to read lying down. Tell a story in a slow, calm way or play an audio story. Try an audio version of “Are You My Mother” by PD Eastman
Some children (over 12 months) may have a favourite toy or blanket that they bring from home, that they might cuddle while you read with them.
Music to Fall Asleep To
Music relaxes. From traditional lullabies to nature sounds or even, for younger children, the white noise of a vacuum cleaner. It might be trial and error to find the right one that works, but played quietly on a loop music calms children and busy educators!
Relaxation and Mindfulness
Using a guided meditation or breathing exercises like bunny, snake, elevator calms active children. Try this Daniel Goleman breathing buddies exercise using a soft toy. Our educator’s tell us that trying to stay awake yourself might be the challenge!
Have designated quiet areas where children know they can go to rest at any time can be a great way to help busy children unwind. Make them cosy spaces with cushions, a rug, bean bags, soft toys, books – like these examples from let the children play.
For younger children, who are not so interested in books, have some sensory bottles – just make sure the lids are super tight or glued on!
Quiet Time Boxes
Boxes with a range of independent activities can be used in quiet areas (or outside if there is a shaded outdoor area). These are great opportunities for observations too –selected activities let children demonstrate a range of problem solving, sorting and classifying or fine motor skills.
- Small white boards or laminated sheets (mazes, shapes, dot to dot, I spy game) and whiteboard markers.
- Playing with cotton balls - Teaching Mama
- Ribbons for Ribbon Play - Hands on as we grow)
- Puzzles – jigsaw puzzles/tangrams, or these great handmade puzzles from laughing kids learn (make them earlier)
- Books – ALWAYS books!
- Magnets and magnet board
- Threading activities
You could also have a designated outside quiet time box with paint brushes (to use with water), chalk for drawing and some small toys for imaginative play
TIP: Label the boxes with the days of the week – so activities are rotated
We’d love to know your favourite quiet time activities for your preschoolers. Go ahead and share them with us in the comments.