No matter how intentional you are about fostering the right atmosphere for rest time at your daycare facility, there’s only so much you can do on your own: you really need to partner with parents to ensure that the children that are part of your daycare family are getting quality sleep at home.
Be Willing to Accommodate Cultural Preferences
Whether it’s an ethnic culture different from your own or simply a unique family culture, you should be aware of any particular sleep customs or habits which some children might have at home. While a padded bed or cot might seem typical for you, some children might be more comfortable on a mat placed directly on the floor or even a hammock. Others may be accustomed to co-sleeping with parents, siblings, or both.
Taking Steps Toward Accommodating Unusual Sleep Habits
If you don’t currently ask about sleep habits in an entrance interview or questionnaire, you may want to add this category for future applicants. You can also keep this in mind if you encounter a perpetual issue with a child who seems unable to rest during “rest time.” Ask him or his parents about where and how he sleeps at home; then be willing to accommodate his needs if possible. Perhaps you’ll even learn of a sleep ritual or routine that you can incorporate with all of your daycare kids.
Taking Steps Toward Encouraging Good Sleep Habits at Home
Of course, whether a child gets healthy sleep at home will be sure to impact his or her behavior at daycare, too; beyond that, it really impacts his or her own sense of well being and overall health. If you tell a parent how well a child rests while at daycare, you may discover that such a scenario is quite different from bedtime at home, possibly leading to an opportunity for you to help parents take strides toward developing better nighttime sleep habits.
Before offering any advice, though, you’ll want to heap on plenty of empathy. Acknowledging the difficulty of having a child who doesn’t sleep well and admitting that each child is unique and acknowledging that the same thing that helps one child won’t necessarily help another will certainly be welcome by parents.
Offering Advice About Addressing Sleep Problems
If your general encouragements are well received, you may want to remind parents of the importance of consistency in both establishing bedtimes and routines as well as responding to night wakings. Often, sleep issues can be tied to anxiety or stress, so it could be helpful to try to identify any causes of such problems. In addition, white noise can help children tune out other noises and literally be lulled to sleep.
Not only will a well-rested child be easier to manage and more enjoyable to be around, but the child will be more comfortable throughout the waking hours as well. By partnering with parents to make sure the children in your daycare get the rest they need, you’ll be helping them establish a skill that will serve them at this stage and throughout their lives.