I do all the usuals to get my group of threes to go to sleep, but the most helpful suggestions I can give are stick to a routine, and use lost of positive encouragement and recognition of those doing what you like.
We also listen to music and story tapes, but lately each day I am requested to sing the following song, written for me by a friend. I can’t explain the tune, so why not make up one of your own.
The Goodnight Song
It’s time to say goodnight,
The stars are shining bright.
Later we’ll see our friends again,
Let’s say goodnight till then.
There goes our friend called (Child’s name)
We hope that he/she sleeps well.
We all say “Goodnight” (or any other phrase)
And later we’ll meet again.
I repeat this song over and over with the kids lying quietly waiting for their turn. I sometimes substitute the “goodnight” with goodnights in other languages represented in our group or with another phrase such as “read quietly”.
I have the children lay on mats, and have a blanket for each one. I put on a tape of lullabies, or soft music. I then spend my time rubbing the childrens backs and whispering to them.
My music of choice for rest time is Hap Palmer’s Seagulls. It is very popular with both the children and the parents. (Many parents have asked for my “magical music”, since their children talk about it at home!) As children lay quietly and listen to the soft music, I tiptoe quietly around and rub backs or whisper encouraging words. Children who do not fall asleep or appear to be sleepy after a certain amount of time are allowed to sit quietly on their towels and read a book.
My favorite naptime “trick” is pretty versatile; I can use it no matter what I am doing (cleaning up, rubbing backs, helping a child change clothes, etc). I repeat several sentences/requests in a low, soothing tone. Since we learn the Spanish words for eyes, ears, and hands; sometimes I substitute the Spanish word and sometimes I will vary a specific sentence just a little bit. My basic sentences/requests are-
“close your eyes”
“don’t open your eyes”
“keep your eyes closed”
“there is nothing for you to see, only for you to hear”
“listen to the music”
“open your ears”
“keep your hands still”
“the faster you go to sleep, the faster you can wake up”
I do not say these in this order, but mix them up. Occasionally, when things seem a little out of hand with several kids whispering/talking or fussing I will use a “surprise” statement like “oh, here’s my favorite song; please be quiet so that I can here it” or I’ll say that I can’t hear a or my favorite song.
Of course, I always praise, too. For instance I will acknowledge with-
“__(name of child)___ is laying very still”
“__(name of child)___ is being very quiet”
“__(name of child)___’s eye’s are closed”
“__(name of child)___ is asleep” (sometimes I have to add “don’t wake him/her up”)
and I add very goods, greats, fantastic, wonderful, thank you and such.
Occasionally, for a very restless child who wants to sleep but is fighting it, I will remind them to lay still, with their eyes closed for 3 (or any number) songs. Then I repeat the reminders. Also, I have used the certain number of songs request for kids who don’t sleep on a regular basis. If they can stay still and quiet, TRYING to rest for a certain number of songs; then they can get a book to look at.
One of the “secrets” of this that I have discovered is that these requests/statements/sentences must be in a mild, relaxing tone. Barking them as a command or demand doesn’t work…in fact it has the opposite effect; it’s as if it’s a challenge to them to misbehave and they get louder and wilder.
For the beginning of my nap time we have SQUIRT time. (Super Quiet UnInterrupted Reading Time). This time is when each child has 15-20 minutes of quiet reading time on their cots. I teach preK. They read and this is my time to read also (normally curriculum books, etc.). They are free to change books from the book shelf at any time. Sometimes I have even stretched this out to a half hour. If I forget SQUIRT time…the children always remind me! I find this works wonders!
I teach older 3 year olds, which can be hard to get down at naptime. Here’s something I just started to do — which seems to really work for everyone. As each child is done with lunch, they are excused to the restroom. While they are gone, I get out the mats, blankets, stuffed animals/dolls. When they get back, they lay down on their mats and wait for everyone to be on their mats. Then, I turn out the lights, cover each child, and say “I love you. Good Night”. Then, I have them close their eyes, and listen. Then, I put on a book on tape. Some fall asleep during the story(s). Afterwards, I put on a lullaby tape and pat each child who is not sleeping yet til they are asleep. It’s great, and the children love the stories (and they are learning).
I love the Greg and Steve quiet moments. I don’t know about the kids but when I play that record I drift off to hawaii or some tropical island in St. Lucia! (LOL) It is a wonderful and relaxing record. I recommend it to anyone!
I actually do not have any trouble at rest time. I use the same routine each day with the children. To begin with we begin toilet time 15 minutes after lunch time, this doesn’t’t give the children much time to become rowdy or get too active. After toilet time each child is put on their blanket and told to have a nice rest. I am not kidding, 10 minutes go by and they are out! I put on the sounds of the ocean or some Celtic music and fill the house with sounds od sleep. I have a wonderful rest time. I think the placement of the children helps as well as the unwinding before. They sleep a good hour and a half sometimes two depending on the day. I feel they need time to recharge and I use the time to plan for the next day!