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Why a rest is just as beneficial as sleep

Child development

Is your child getting enough rest?

A rest can be just as beneficial for a child as sleep and according to Goodstart’s early learning expert Kylie Dawson it should be factored into a child’s everyday routine.

She said rest periods throughout the day were especially important for those children, including kindergarten-aged children, who no longer had a sleep during the day.

According to Scientific American (2013), rest can be as equally important as sleep – playing a role in learning and memory function and critical for revitalising the body and mind and regulating mood.

Ms Dawson said in the early years, with the help of their parents, learning to rest and calm the body was an important strategy for children to acquire.

“A child’s sleep and rest needs are constantly changing as they grow,” Ms Dawson said.

“While there is no set amount of rest a child should have each day, as it differs from child to child, parents should focus on ensuring the rest and sleep needs of their child are being met by identifying cues and ensuring rest time is being incorporated into the day’s routine.”

What rest looks like 

Not all rest had to be taken lying or sitting down, she said.

Rest can be defined as quiet time; a period of inactivity or relaxed activity, calmness or tranquillity and can include a child being in a state of sleep.


Effective ways for children to rest:

  • Reading a book in their room or on the couch
  • Sitting at a table drawing
  • Playing with playdough
  • Quietly threading beads onto string.

She said it was important that resting activities did not include screen time, such as TVs, tablet and the like.

Why rest matters

If your child is of kindergarten or preschool age and still required a sleep, a study has found that naps can enhance learning by cementing memories that were acquired earlier in the day.

“This means that rest time allows children to better remember what they learned prior to their nap.”

Ms Dawson said rest time was not only relaxing for children, it was a crucial part of healthy development.

“The research tells us that rest, in addition to sleep, supports a child’s learning, development and wellbeing.”

Ms Dawson noted that some kindergarten and preschool aged children who do not want or need a nap, should be supported to rest as it delivers great benefits.

Read about Ms Dawson’s suggestions for creating rest environments,  supporting a child to rest and creating a transitioning routine that signals to your child a rest is coming here.

Kylie is one of Goodstart’s Early Learning Capability Consultants. The Early Learning Capability Team develop high quality, evidence-based professional learning materials to improve early childhood practice and knowledge of children’s development, learning and wellbeing


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