This memorandum responds to questions our office has received in regard to whether a nap time is required for prekindergarten students who are in attendance for a full-day (five or more hours per day) and other practices associated with the provision of a nap time.
Is a nap time required for children attending a full-day prekindergarten program?
No, it is not required; however, the New York State Education Department’s Office of Early Learning (OEL) suggests that all programs serving prekindergarten students provide a regularly scheduled nap or rest time for students who attend a full-day program. During this time, students are encouraged to rest, relax, and nap. Quiet activities should be provided for students who do not nap.
What length of time is appropriate for nap time?
The length of nap time may vary depending on the ages and changing needs of students over the course of the school year. If most students do not nap and are not tired during the program day, a shorter rest period may be appropriate. However, if most students are not ready to wake up at the end of nap time, this period may need to be extended. In general, we suggest starting out with a 20-30 minute nap time and adjusting as necessary.
How does nap time impact on the calculation of instructional hours for three and four year old students?
In state-administered prekindergarten classrooms, scheduled nap times (for example, when children use sleeping mats or cots for the purpose of going to sleep for a period of time) may not be counted as instructional time. Intentionally planned and routinely scheduled quiet activities where children may choose to look at books in the reading area, work quietly on small group projects at a table, or engage in other low-key activities where quality teacher-child interactions are occurring may be included in the calculation of instructional time, even if some children are napping.
What is the required staffing for a prekindergarten classroom during nap time?
As with all other times of the day, it is imperative that at nap time classrooms remain in compliance with the staffing requirements set forth in 8 NYCRR 151-1.3(e). These regulations specify that:
- The program must ensure that the maximum class size is twenty students.
- For classes up to eighteen students, there must be at least one teacher and at least one paraprofessional assigned to each class. For classes of nineteen or twenty students, there must be at least one teacher and at least two paraprofessionals assigned to each class.
It is never appropriate for a prekindergarten classroom to be scheduled with only one staff person present. We recognize that districts have a contractual obligation to provide planning time and lunch breaks for prekindergarten staff. However, this must be done in a manner that ensures appropriate coverage is maintained for the classroom. Some districts accomplish this by including prekindergarten classes in the schedule for “specials.” Others employ one or more “floating” teacher aides who rotate classrooms to assure that there are two adults in each classroom while the teacher or other paraprofessional are on scheduled breaks. Please note that certified teacher and supplementary school personnel staff to student ratio must be maintained in a 4410 special class and in Special Class in an Integrated Setting (SCIS) classrooms.
Suggested Nap Time Guidelines
This may be the first classroom experience for many prekindergarten students. As with any new classroom activity, clear expectations of what happens during nap time needs to be established. This includes, but is not limited to:
- introducing the cot/mat labeled with the child’s name that the child will sleep or rest on
- demonstrating how children place their bodies on the cot/mat
- practicing getting sleeping supplies (i.e., blankets, stuffed animals, etc.) out of cubbies and returning their supplies after nap is over
- discussing expected behavior while lying on the cot/mat (i.e., not disturbing others who are resting, staying on top of the cot/mat, etc.)
- showing children what the room will look like during nap time (i.e., lights dimmed, music playing, etc.)
- telling children where the adults will be during rest time (this will help them feel reassured that someone is in the room with them)
- developing a nap time routine which may include keeping shoes on in case of an evacuation during nap time
- sending sleeping supplies home weekly for cleaning
- cleaning nap time surfaces daily
Suggested Nap Time Expectations
- Children need an adjustment period to get acclimated to nap time. They need to adjust to the background noises, the light level, and sleeping on a new surface. Teachers need to be aware that for some children, it may take several weeks for a child’s body to adjust to the different sleeping atmosphere before they are able to fall asleep in the classroom.
- Not all children will nap every day. Plan quiet activities for children on their cots or mats, or in designated areas of the classroom (for example, at a table or in a quiet activity area such as a reading area). Consider shortening time on cots for children who do not fall asleep.
- Plan on rubbing backs or sitting next to a child who may need to feel reassured while falling asleep. Please keep in mind some children may not want to have adult interaction during this time.
- When children wake up from napping it is important to give them time to get reacclimatized to the routine.
Suggestions for Setting the Classroom Tone for Napping
- put on lullabies, nap time music, a book on cd, or nature recordings
- use calming voices
- read a comforting story
- give the child a book to look at on their cot
- allow children to bring a favorite stuffed animal from home (a nap time buddy)
Questions regarding this memo may be directed to the Office of Early Learning at OEL@nysed.gov.