by Pam Schaffner
The program quality assessment team in PA is often asked if they have any tips or strategies to make meeting quality standards easier. Since they have experiences visiting many programs in their professional careers, they have seen many strategies employed to make things easier, more efficient, and more effective. Implementing quality can be stressful or time consuming, but it is always worth it. So, this post aims at helping you along the way.
Nap Stress Relieved
Do you have trouble meeting quality standards when it comes to nap? Does the nap period cause you stress when children won’t sleep or wake early?
Tip #1: Cot/crib/mat separation
- For the highest quality standards, 3 feet of spacing on 3 sides of rest furnishings is best. This is because there is lots of open space around each cot/mat/crib if children need to be woken and taken out of the program quickly in an emergency. The 3 feet spacing is also to reduce the spread of germs. So, how can this spacing be quickly checked so the placing of rest furniture does not have to take forever during or after lunch? Do you have tiled flooring (either tile or linoleum)? Measure a square. I bet you will find out that they are 1 foot squared. If this is the case, just count to make sure that there are 3 squares on 3 sides. You should be able to count 3 squares on 3 sides before running into a table, shelf, infant seat, or other object being in the way. If you do not have floor tiles, measure a piece of ribbon or yarn and keep it handy. When setting up for nap, bring it out and use it to make sure that the separation is OK. You may have to move some furniture to make this work. Once you have an arrangement that works, draw a map of your room with the placement of cots/mats/cribs and set them out the same every day. Problem abated.
Tip #2: Everyone falls asleep at different times and wakes at different times
- This is completely normal. A regular rest period is scheduled daily for most programs. Perhaps you have a written schedule that indicates that nap is from 12:00 until 2:00. It is good that nap is scheduled for young children. However, in your own life, have you ever varied the time you went to bed? What led you to going to bed at 9:00 rather than 10:00 or at 11:00 rather than 10:00? Small children, like you, can get tired earlier or later than the scheduled time and to meet their varying needs (that can sometimes change daily), we need to have measures in place. Rather than forcing children to adhere to the same schedule by not allowing them to sleep when they are tired or forcing them to remain on their beds without activities upon waking, a sensitive approach to these differing sleep needs is important. Put yourself in their shoes. Do you, upon waking, stay in bed until a predetermined time if you wake early? Probably not. So, what are some things assessors have seen to build quality practices with nap time variances? Putting a cot out early and saving a child’s lunch until he wakes is an appropriate response for a child who is tired early. Designating an area of the room for quiet activities upon waking where no cots/mats/cribs will be placed is an appropriate response for those who wake early. Programs often create nap time activity bags in advance that children can use in the time between waking and the scheduled wake up time. The activities inside are reserved only for that part of the day so the children will experience less boredom. The less bored they are with the materials in the bags (changed often for a new experience), the amount of time the child demands a teacher’s undivided attention during nap will also lessen. This will allow the teacher to prepare afternoon activities, do paperwork such as daily notes home, fill out developmental checklists, etc. Put yourself in the shoes of the child, and then respond in kind.