Rest Time in Preschool: My Top 7 Tips

How to prepare nap time or quiet time in 7 easy steps starting earlier in the day.

As we all know, some children may have difficulty settling down for naptime. In fact we most often pin point the nap time/ quiet time routine as difficult for them. What if we were to tell you that you can actually start preparing the children for this routine much earlier in the day? Here are some tips for you that was taken from Barb O’Neill at Transforming Challenging Behavior.

I recently received this question from a reader in Plovdiv, Bulgaria but I’m certain it will resonate with early childhood professionals around the world…

“We try to have some time for rest and relaxation in the afternoon after lunch. We have a really hard time making children lay down for a while and relax…advice? 

– Katerina (name changed for privacy)

Katerina, many teachers share your rest time struggles!

And, while it’s easy to pinpoint nap time or quiet time as the problem, in reality the solution starts much earlier in the day. 

Plus, in most classrooms this is a multi-parted transition that starts with lunch clean-up…to bathroom…(maybe) get-your-stuff-in-your-cubby and/or make-your-bed…to-nap/quiet-time.

That’s a little brain to navigate! Especially when tired.

With that in mind, here are my top 7 Rest Time Tips…

  1. Make sure you have at least 1 hour of gross motor activity in the morning. Only get 30 minutes on the playground? Make sure you don’t lose a minute of it! Start the transition to outside sooner if you need to. Try to negotiate with your co-workers and program leadership to extend it to 45 minutes or combine it with a walk in the neighborhood. 
  2. Include movement or physical games during circle time and transitions. This is not instead of 1 hour of gross motor, it’s in addition! 
  3. Get lamps or rely on daylight. Use these, especially in the morning. Many children are sensitive to fluorescent overhead lights so may be part of your problem. 
  4. Dim or turn off the lights and play soothing music during lunch clean up. If it helps do this but if it doesn’t then of course don’t. (You’re probably doing this already). 
  5. Have one teacher read or tell a really good story informally in the rest area (bring stuffies and blankets, attendance optional). This can help settle those ready to rest and motivate the stragglers to finish up lunch and bathrooming.
  6. Use a soothing jingle to sing the directions to get on your cot. Singing about #7 may give this strategy an extra boost. 
  7. Lead the children in a lay-down “creative movement” exercise or gentle on-cot yoga. Folks, this is the key. The possibilities are endless here but I like to sing about going on a cloud adventure.

Use your imagination! Keep it fun and interesting but not too exciting. Close with catching a cloud and tucking it under the pillow to ground them on their mat. 

Barb O’Neill
Transforming Challenging Behavior