Rest Time for Preschoolers
Do you still need to have rest time for preschoolers? Once children leave the toddler phase you are done with nap time, so why still have a rest period?
Rest time for preschoolers is so important. Yes, as toddlers get older they don’t need to sleep during the day as much, but they still need time to relax and recharge.
Ben is 5 and in pre-K, and he has rest time every day. It is good for him and the whole family.
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Why Do Preschoolers Need Rest Time?
Preschool Sleep Needs
Preschool-aged children still need a lot of sleep. These kids range from age 3 to 5 and should be getting 10 to 13 hours of sleep at night, and they might need additional daytime sleep.
With busy schedules, kids can end up going to bed later than would be ideal. And in order to get everyone up and where they need to be in the morning they have to wake up earlier too. This makes the finding quiet rest time even more important.
The most important thing is to look at your child’s age and sleep needs, not just what school level they are at.
Preschoolers Are Busy!
When kids start going to school they are suddenly stimulated all day long! They are running around with friends, they are learning new rules, and they are learning all the academics to go along with it.
It might seem like fun and games, but play is the work of childhood. And preschoolers work hard.
As such, they still need downtime to recharge their minds and bodies. Having a designated rest time gives them a chance to decompress.
Having rest time encourages preschoolers to slow down, relax, and as a result better process what they have learned that day.
What are the benefits of preschool rest time?
Rest time doesn’t have to be spent just lying in bed staring at the ceiling. Having quiet time to play in one’s room can be a break from the day.
This break to go and spend some time alone benefits the whole family.
Independent Playtime for Preschoolers
Just because kids start school it doesn’t mean preschoolers no longer need to take the time to practice entertaining themselves. Independent playtime encourages problem-solving and as the name suggests, independence. These are life skills.
This rest time lets preschoolers explore their own interests too. As kids get older and busier it is can be hard to give them time to just play with whatever interests them. This free time can come during rest time.
Preschoolers Still Need To Rest
Rest time can still mean sleep sometimes. Ben will occasionally fall asleep if we’ve been very busy for a time. This is a good thing!
We all need to learn to listen to our bodies and rest when we need to. Having a quiet time away from all that is going on lets children nap if they need to, and this is teaching kids to take care of themselves.
Having quiet time in their room limits the space kids can run around in, which forces them to rest physically a bit, even if they don’t sleep.
I also like having rest time where the bed is available. If Ben is tired enough he lies down and takes a little nap. I have found that kids at this age are more likely to actually sleep if they think it is their idea.
Opportunities For One on One Time
When you have more than one child it can get hard to find moments for one on one time. Ali and Sammy still need a lot of attention and take a lot of my focus. And with Ben in preschool, our time is even more limited.
Rest time is the perfect chance to steal some one on one time. The girls are napping, so Ben is available to do projects his sisters are too little for. I can take some time to really check in with him and spend time focusing on just Ben.
This one on one time is available even if your other children aren’t napping still. Everyone is occupied in their rooms, meaning you can pull children out one at a time to spend time with them.
It is important to find time to reach your child’s heart every day, and rest time is another chance to do just that.
Rest time is way more flexible than nap time. Obviously, we don’t need a place for Ben to sleep if we are out all day, unlike Ali and Sammy who still need a nap.
We can skip this time if there is an important event or activity taking place. For example when we have family visiting, Ben can spend more time with our guests while the girls still have to sleep. We don’t have to leave fun events early with Ben because he needs to sleep.
Rest time can take place in other locations. If we are out of the house all day, Ben is still in the habit of sitting quietly for a period of time in the afternoon. He can watch the iPad or play quietly on his own without issue.
This means we can still all have some rest time, even if we aren’t home.
Rest Time Benefits the Whole Family
It Encourages Younger Siblings to Rest
When your oldest child ages out of needing naps, it is easy for younger siblings to see that and think they can be done napping too. Not so fast, 2-year-olds! I don’t want to give them any firepower to fight naps.
Having your older child still doing a form of rest time helps keep nap time going. Ali and Sammy don’t complain because they know Ben is resting too. It also helps keep the house quieter because no one is up and running around while younger ones are trying to sleep.
It Encourages Older Siblings to Rest
When your youngest child reaches the end of nap time it can signal a change for the whole family. Since no one needs to sleep you have no need to be home in the afternoon. Rest time gives you an excuse to slow down during the day and take a break.
There are days that older children need a nap, even if they haven’t had a regular nap time in years. Having an already established time means you are already in the habit of quiet time during the day.
It Encourages the Whole Family to Slow Down
Look, life is busy and it just gets busier. Prioritizing my preschooler’s rest time lets the whole family slow down. After a crazy week, I look forward to having a couple of hours of downtime on the weekend.
Seeing how refreshed and recharged my children are after their quiet rest time reminds me that I need a chance to rest and recharge. So yep, sometimes I grab a nap while my kids are in rest time.
This works both ways. When your children see you making it a priority to take care of yourself, they are learning that self-care matters.
The Whole Family Benefits From a Break.
Let’s be real, even though we all love each other in our family sometimes we need a break from each other. Kids can be squabbling, I can be feeling stressed out. Quiet time gives everyone a break.
This quiet time is built-in adult time in the middle of the day. It gives me a chance to get some work done, take care of household chores, or just enjoy a few moments of sweet quiet.
At the end of rest time, the entire family is happy to be back together and ready for a fun evening.
What Rest Time Looks Like For Us
What does rest time look like? How does it work?
Rest time is at the same time every day. Ali and Sammy nap from 2-4:30 while Ben has rest time from 2:30-4:30. He gets his one on one time once Ali and Sammy go to nap since he has preschool all day.
Ben’s rest time is in his room. He can do whatever he wants (within reason of course), but he must stay in his room. This means he has his bed available if he wants to sleep.
Of course, as I mentioned there is flexibility in rest time. So we can do rest time in other places. But if we are home it is in the same spot every time.
Rest Time Activities
So what can your preschooler do in rest time? Lots of things! There are plenty of quiet activities for kids to do in their rooms (some even help enhance childhood education!) Here are some preschool rest time ideas and tips.
This is the perfect time to read books. Yes, I know a lot of preschoolers can’t actually read yet. But the habit of picking up a book and looking at it starts young.
I also keep the books that I don’t want inadvertently damaged by busy toddlers in Ben’s room. This is his chance to look at them and treat them well.
These books can be about anything, but if you have a budding scientist, here are some of the best STEM books to consider—> Science Books for Preschoolers.
Puzzles are a great mental challenge for kids, and there are a ton to choose from! Whatever your child’s interest, there is a puzzle for it. You can get some bonus letter and number practice in with puzzles too!
This is also a perfect puzzle time if your preschooler has younger siblings. I didn’t want Ali and Sammy getting into the puzzles with smaller pieces, so quiet time was when Ben could do them without interference.
I know no one wants to go overboard with screen time for preschoolers, but this can be a good time for a little electronic learning. I try to keep it interactive, but this is a nice way to help your child learn in a fun way.
Ben loves his LeapFrog LeapStart. I like that it is electronic, but it isn’t a screen. He puts special books into it and the device talks, leading him through questions and answers.
This is another toy that is special and just for quiet time. He gets to learn and have fun.
If you are comfortable letting your child have art supplies unsupervised, this can be a great time to color. (I limit it to things that are safe and super easy to clean).
Coloring is a wonderful activity that unlocks children’s imaginations. It also works fine motor skills and leads to writing skills. Not bad for some crayons and paper! (Learn just how important coloring can be—> The Big Deal with Coloring)
There are some toys that Ben is only allowed to play with in his room. This could be because it has small parts I don’t want his sisters to get. Or it could just be a special toy he doesn’t want to share. (That’s allowed with some toys in our house.)
Quiet playtime is a good time for a child to enjoy those toys that are either unsafe for younger siblings, or they just don’t want to share. And since he only gets to play with them during this time, it keeps them exciting.
Occasionally I will give Ben something special to play with in quiet rest time, like a mystery tinker bag. But honestly, I don’t usually do anything too special. This time is for Ben to fill on his own.
If it seems like he is needing help keeping himself busy, I will step in and make suggestions. But quiet time is his time just for himself. Play is the work of childhood and he learns the most when left to his own devices.
Preschoolers Still Need to Rest
The importance of rest time in preschool is easy to overlook. But preschoolers are busy and still need quiet time to recharge and learn on their own. It is a special an important time when they are free to do as they please.
Kids benefit from a rest time. So don’t think the quiet is over when nap time for preschoolers is over. You can use quiet rest time to help the whole family recharge and thrive.