In our youngest group, Gibbons, we appreciate the need for flexibility in sleep routines. As such, the Green room includes a dedicated peaceful cot room with 8 cots, wherein the experienced team can meet children’s individual sleep routines throughout the day. Each child has their own sheet and blanket – some families do bring sleeping bags, which we are happy to use. It is a serene and cosy room with attractive decor and gentle music playing in the background to limit disturbances. Each child’s sleep requirements (e.g. times, comforters, how they like to be soothed or if they self-soothe etc.) are written on a consistently updated board outside the sleep room. Our caring and brilliant staff help the children get to sleep in whichever way they are used to according to families’ wishes. Sometimes a gentle rock or stroking the hair is the preferred method and sometimes they just like someone to sit quietly nearby. Each room has a sleep chart on which staff note down their checks on children every ten minutes.
Our extremely high quality CCTV, located in the office, is on at all times and covers all rooms including sleep areas for additional security and safeguarding. The sleep room is kept cool and airy in the warm weather and warm and cosy when it is cold. The environment is calm and comforting so as to maximise the length of time the children rest.
For our older children, if they are still having one nap a day, the nursery nap time runs from 12.30, just after lunch, to 2.30. This is usually ample time for a toddler rest but if they need longer we will either place them in a sleep room cot or make sure they are near the edge of the room on lots of pillows so they can carry on! We have thick sleep mats that cover the whole of the Gibbon Room and individual sheets under each child. Again, blinds are down and gentle music is played while the team rock, stroke, pat or sing (not really!) them off to sleep. They wake up gently, one by one, have a cuddle and make their way to the Baboon Room to gently come round by doing quiet activities, have cosy stories and other things with a familiar team member.
We always make sure the children go to sleep and wake up to faces they know well. When organising lunch rotas for the staff making sure the children are with adults they feel close to is top of our priority list. This is important for all children of course but especially for children who may have just joined us or recently changed groups.
In the preschool, and sometimes with the 2 yr old’s, many of the children no longer have nap time, however, we feel it is important that children have dedicated rest times in which to play calmly and focus on quiet activities. The team ensure to maintain a sense of calm as these children do activities or engage in quiet play until everyone is awake. Quiet time, as we call it, includes busy bags, audio books, and a host of self-directed activities. in the preschool these calm activities are set out in the dance room on the padded floor and the sleeping children lie on mats and pillows behind our cosy curtains that transform the group time area. Children who’ve woken up before the end of the nursery sleep time also benefit from a very calm and serene environment as they settle back into the day from a sleep or rest.
It is important that families know that at Young Friends we absolutely advocate cuddles. We are aware some nurseries feel it is necessary to try to instill independence wherever possible and though we agree with this sentiment we love children and understand that whatever group they are in – Gibbons to Gorillas – they are all still babies in the great scheme of things. And babies need cuddles if they are tired, sad, sleepy, worried and of course when they are happy too. So we say cuddle away, because we want them to be happy and feel safe with us and we are sure you do too.