Sleep And The Restless Preschooler: Why Policies Need To Change
Karen Thorpe, Sally Staton, Simon Smith, Susan Irvine, 9 Oct 17

Not all young children want – or are able – to sleep at the same time. Shutterstock

The legislated regulatory standards for sleep, rest and relaxation in early childhood education and care have changed this week. What are the changes and why have these been made?

From October 1, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care requires that each long day care, family day care and preschool service has a policy and procedure for sleep, rest and relaxation. These must document how services will provide for each child’s comfort and wellbeing, and how they must align with children’s individual needs.

The changes reflect that sleep-rest practices in early childhood education settings are an area of concern. Currently, the majority of services provide for sleep and rest through a standard period in the middle of the day when children are required to lie down, whether or not they are tired or able to sleep. Such practices fail to consider children’s individual developmental needs and their right to choose.

Our extensive studies of sleep practices in Queensland have found that many services do not provide alternatives for non-sleeping children or for children who are tired outside the scheduled sleep-rest time. Observing 2,300 preschool children in 130 centres, we found that only 30% slept during sleep-rest times, yet 80% of centres mandated a period of time where no alternative activity was permitted.

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