Preschool and Kindergarten Prep Sleep Tips
Have you seen the article floating around about children with good sleep habits adjusting better to kindergarten than their sleepier classmates?
It just makes sense! Children who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. All of these factors will help children with the transition to a more structured learning environment and all of the new learning experiences.
If you are sending your little one off to preschool or kindergarten, you may be wondering “what can I do to prepare my child?”
Based on my experience as both a certified child sleep consultant and a parent coach, specializing in behavior, I’ve pulled together my top tips to help your little one with the transition. First, we are going to focus on sleep and next week, we’ll talk about behavior.
Preschool and Kindergarten Prep Sleep Tips:
Move Wake Time Earlier
A week before school starts, begin waking your child at the time they need to wake up for school.
This means even on the weekends! This will help prepare your child’s body to move to the new school schedule gradually.
PRO TIP: To help with this transition, use the sun to your advantage. Open the blinds and curtains 30 minutes before your child has to wake up. The sun will naturally help your child to wake more gradually.
Move Bedtime Earlier
If you are moving your child’s wake time earlier, you’ve got to compensate with an earlier bedtime. This will help your child meet their sleep needs to prevent getting overtired.
Preschoolers need a total of 11-13 hours of sleep a day. School-aged children need between 10-11 hours of nighttime sleep.
You can determine your child’s best bedtime by looking at what time they need to wake in the morning and counting back the required number of hours. Ensure that you are getting your child into bed 15-30 minutes BEFORE their bedtime so they are settling in by the time they need to be asleep.
For example, a 3-year-old who needs 11-12 hours of nighttime sleep and needs to wake up at 6:30 am to get ready for school, will need to be asleep somewhere between 6:30 and 7:30 pm to meet their sleep needs. If your preschooler recently dropped nap, stick with the earlier end of that window.
PRO TIP: Limit sunlight exposure 1-2 hours before bedtime. Dim lights in the hours leading up to bed will help your child to settle to sleep easier.
Napping At Preschool
If your preschooler is still napping, you may be worried that this may be the end of nap. A valid concern, but if your child still needs a nap, they usually will take one, even in a preschool environment.
To ease your mind, I want to remind you that in full-day preschool programs, most of the other children in your child’s class will also be napping so this is a strong motivator for your little one to nap as well. I call this power of the pack!
PRO TIP: Make sure that you bring your child’s lovey to school with them each day. Having a comfort object from home will help your little one to settle into sleep in this new environment.
Adjusting Nap Timing
If your child is in a morning half-day preschool program, they’ll likely get out of preschool smack dab in the middle of the ideal nap sleep window – around 12:30. You’ll want to make sure that you start getting your child down for nap, after a short nap, as soon as you get home. Timing sleep between 12:00 – 1:00 pm helps to make the sleep restorative. Also, if your preschooler is settling too late, the nap will push later, which can create bedtime battles.
PRO TIP: If your child leaves preschool starving, pack lunch or a heavy snack for your child to eat in the car.
If your preschooler or kindergartener is dropping nap as a result of starting school or because they are ready for this transition, you’ll want to move bedtime MUCH earlier temporarily.
When we dropped nap at 4 years old, my twins were going to be anywhere between 30 – 60 minutes earlier, between 6:00 – 6:30pm, based on their afternoon demeanor and sleepy cues.
Once they were better rested, we began pushing bedtime back to around 7:00 pm, in 15-minute increments each day.
PRO TIP: Even if your little one isn’t sleeping during the day, you’ll still want to do quiet time at home. Create some quiet time boxes for your little one to adjust to having downtime. Plus you get a break too!
I hope that our preschool and kindergarten prep sleep tips help your little one with this huge transition! And I am sending you a huge hug – this is a big transition for Mamas too!
If you need help with your child’s sleep, please schedule a discovery call so one of our amazing team of sleep consultants can help you to have a happy, healthy and well-rested family!
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