Sometimes, when pre-schools and kindergarteners need more instructional time for their young learners, they might think about cutting nap time, but that is a bad idea. Research shows that there is more value to nap time than just a nice rest for the class.
Studies have shown that the absence of afternoon nap times can have a negative effect on young learners’ longer-term ability to remember what they are taught. The reason younger students need nap time, and older students don’t, relate to the development of the brain. Children around the age of 4 are still napping at least once a day because they are still in a period of rapid growth in the hippocampus. This is the part of the brain that’s responsible for emotions, memory, and learning. Research shows that younger learners need more time to process what they have learned during the day, something we grow out of as our brains develop, by removing nap time these young students can’t store any more “unprocessed” information and will forget things past a certain point. Simply put, nap time also acts as “think-time” as students will rest their bodies and let their minds piece together what they have learned throughout the day, remember it, and be ready to learn more once rested and refreshed.
There is also evidence that suggests forcing nap time on students, does little to help children process and remember what they have learned. Here are some tips for teachers to make nap time seem less of a chore for the children who don’t want to rest. Quiet and repetitive activities can be a useful way of calming students down right before nap time arrives. Reading the same or similar books at a certain time every day is a good way of establishing a nap time routine, this also works with gentle music and non-stimulating activities. Physical activities also help, but not immediately before nap time, make sure your students tire themselves out physically and slowly watch them get sleepier as they calm down. One last tip is to establish a routine. By making your young students associate certain things with nap time, they will slowly begin to fall into a routine and will start to get tired when they do them. This could include tidying up, drawing curtains, etc.
Nap time is a valuable part of pre-school and kindergarten students’ development and ability to process information. It helps children with their cognitive development and processing skills as well as the ability to learn routine behaviour habits.
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