Rest Time

I am now in my sixth year of teaching. I have been at numerous schools, read many books on teaching and learning, and have begun to connect with teachers all over the globe. Writing here has been a wonderful thing for me - I'm able to reflect on my job, share the learning and exploration of my students, and organize my own thoughts. And by reading other teachers' blogs, I can learn about other classrooms, other approaches, other challenges, and see the changing community of early childhood education.

But you want to know something that no one is an expert in?

Rest time.

As I sit here, I am at a table in a darkened room, listening to a lullatone curated nap time mix (that you can find over at snore and guzzle). It is right after lunchtime, so there is the inevitable parade to the bathroom. And there are tissues. And there are cups of water. And there is the throwing away of tissues. And there is the readjusting of blankets, which always involves standing up and waving the blanket in the air between ten and twelve times.

There are two children who always fall asleep, after trying desperately to keep themselves awake for 30 minutes. On a Monday or a Friday, about half the class sleeps.

We listen to quiet music sometimes; other times we listen to stories. This group seems to be excited by storytelling -- there is more moving and joining in and excitement.

These children are all four years old now. Some have clearly outgrown their naps. Last year, towards the end of the year, we started a book time for the first 15 minutes, and that ended up lasting for the whole rest time by the end of the year. So many more children slept last year - this was not an issue at all in November.

They are staying on their mats for the most part, and being quiet. But some children do not need this rest; some need to move. These children are desperately trying to find something to do to keep themselves entertained.

So here is the question I pose : How do we balance? I am interested in giving the children on their mats something to do, but I don't want the sleepers to become so distracted they do not get the rest they need. I'm interested in the children having something to do - but the "look at a book" thing seems like it works with children who are engaged by books for 45 minutes.

Some things that come to mind:
  • nap totes with a naptime sketchbook, a book of the child's choice, something else quiet?
  • A few small mp3 players or portable CD players for children to listen to individual music and stories on, perhaps in native languages
  • small sewing bags (simple embroidery, after we have done it a few more times in class)
I'm sure there are more options - I suppose I'm reaching out to our community, here. I imagine I could make the children part of this process, as well. The girl who is making cat noises in the corner and the boy trying to throw and catch his pillow with his feet may have some interesting insights. It is their rest time, anyway.

What do you do? Would you change anything? Do you have any cutting edge ideas for this timeless dilemma?

{more coming on Reggio soon, I promise...}