Napping is a hot topic among parents of toddlers and preschoolers. Parenting experts from all over the world weigh in every few months about whether or not preschoolers should nap. Some say that preschoolers can drop the nap around 2 or 3 years of age. Others are more aggressive; they say to wake up your 3-year-old child if she sleeps for more than 45 minutes during the day. And some say it doesn’t really matter – just do what works best for the parents’ schedules.
Parents are equally as split. Some try trading naps for an earlier bedtime. Some enjoy the respite in the middle of the day that the nap offers. And some just go with the flow; if the preschooler wants to nap he can, but it’s not part of the normal routine.
But no one seems to be answering one big question:
Do preschoolers benefit from naps?
A recent study indicates that they do in a big way. It shows that children who take significant naps during the day (over 75 minutes) retain more information that they recently learned. This is crucial as their brains are absorbing and processing more information than they will in just a few years. If they can retain more information now, it may give them a head start in education later.
The scientists figured this out by giving preschoolers, aged 3-5, a “Memory”-type test. Then, some kids napped while others continued playing in their preschool classroom. Later that day the test was repeated. The kids who napped retained the information about the game, doing as well with the test as they had hours earlier. The kids who played, on the other hand, did 15% worse than before.
To determine whether or not the results were skewed because some kids were a little sleepy during the second test, they repeated it the next day. The kids who had napped the day before STILL did better.
It’s clear that napping has a positive effect on preschoolers’ brains. Unfortunately, only 50% of 3 year olds still take naps, and the percentage drops even lower as they hit 4 years (35%). Some blame increased curriculum in preschools and daycares, but whatever the reason, kids are missing out on the sleep that could help them learn.
It seems that by trying to keep that extra snooze time in your preschooler’s schedule, you are setting them up for some extra brainpower. It’s just another way to get your smarty-pants kid a little further ahead.
Want some fun ways to get your kids learning? Check out my Pinterest board – “Smarty Pants”!
Photo courtesy of photostock on freedigitalphotos.net