We often hear from families that they are amazed that we are able to get all of the children to sleep at the same time. So, today I thought I would share what we do to help that happen. First, I must state that we are not always successful at this, but the majority of the time, these things work.
Routine, I think this is the biggest thing we do to reach this goal. While things do not always happen at the same time, they always happen in the same order. After lunch the children use the restroom, pick out a book and a stuffy and then sit on their cot looking at their book until all the children are on their cots. Then the teacher who gets to read (we all love reading at nap and so we take turns) gathers the books and sits down, usually near the youngest two. The teacher and the children take big deep breaths and then the teacher reads. Before the last book is read, they all take more deep breaths. After the last book we turn on the naptime music mix and ocean sounds on a sound machine. These things always happen in that very order.
Tenacity, sometimes all it takes is being willing to sit or lie next to them and rub their backs or their heads for a good ten/fifteen/twenty minutes. If someone starts moving their fingers in an attempt to stay awake, we gently rub their arm or hand. Think about how it feels when you get a scalp massage our when someone gives a gentle massage.
Get tricky, often we have older children who tell us that they are not tired. We tell them that we understand that they don’t feel tired, but we need to be sure. We tell them that if they really are not tired, they should be able to lie still for one minute with their eyes closed. We let them get comfy and close their eyes and then we start counting, low and slow. If they move, we simply start back at one, each time they move or open their eyes, we start over. Generally, we never make it to 60. Sometimes I will combine counting with a back rub or holding their hand.
Be flexible, somedays they may need a back rub and for you to count, somedays they might need you to hold their hand and say “shhhhh” (that’s another trick we sometimes use.) The most important thing is to stay calm, without falling asleep yourself. Just yesterday I had a four-year-old who wanted to snuggle, I focused on taking deep relaxing breaths, she was asleep in less than 10 minutes, and I was very close to sleeping myself.
So, when you see photos of classrooms of napping children, it is not magic, it is just determined teachers who have a book of tricks up their sleeves to make it happen. Hopefully you can use some of these tricks at home too.