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Good Night, Sleep Tight: Preschoolers and Sleep

Parents of young kids know how precious sleep can be. It’s important to remember that a lack of sleep can impact your preschooler’s behavior and ability to have a good day at preschool. Grumpiness, low energy, and extremes in behavior could all by signs that your child needs more sleep.


While experts agree about the value of sleep, they also recognize that not all kids need the exact same amount. In general though, one to three year olds need between 12-14 hours of sleep per day. Most kids this age take one long nap and go to bed between 7 and 9 p.m. Kids ages three to six years old typically need between 10-12 hours of sleep per day.


To help your child understand the difference between a body at rest and a body at play, try this simple experiment:

• When your child is calm and resting, help him count his pulse during a one-minute interval.

• Write down the number of beats counted.

• Then have your child get up and do an active movement for several minutes. Try jumping jacks, running, or hopping up and down.

• Once again, help your child count his pulse during a one-minute interval.

• Compare the rate of your child’s pulse when resting to when active.


At the end of the day, help your child make observations about what happens when she gets tired. When it draws close to bedtime, ask your child how she feels. What are the signs her body gives that tell her that it is time to rest? (yawning, drooping eyelids, or a “heavy” head).


Take that sleepy-time opportunity to cuddle up with some good books for story time. Reading stories before bedtime makes a good transition between active play and rest time and should be a part of the bedtime routine. Those special, quiet moments with books will become special memories for you and your child.



Read early and read often. The early years are critical to developing a lifelong love of reading. It’s never too early to begin reading to your child! The tips below offer some fun ways you can help your child become a happy and confident reader. Try a new tip each week. See what works best for your child.

■ Read together every day. Read to your child every day. Make this a warm and loving time when the two of you can cuddle close.

■ Give everything a name. Build your child’s vocabulary by talking about interesting words and objects. For example, “Look at that airplane! Those are the wings of the plane. Why do you think they are called wings?”

■ Say how much you enjoy reading. Tell your child how much you enjoy reading with him or her. Talk about “story time” as the favorite part of your day.

■ Read with fun in your voice. Read to your child with humor and expression. Use different voices. Ham it up!

■ Know when to stop. Put the book away for awhile if your child loses interest or is having trouble paying attention.

■ Be interactive. Discuss what’s happening in the book, point out things on the page, and ask questions.

■ Read it again and again. Go ahead and read your child’s favorite book for the 100th time!

■ Talk about writing, too. Mention to your child how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.

■ Point out print everywhere. Talk about the written words you see in the world around you. Ask your child to find a new word on each outing.

■ Get your child evaluated. Please be sure to see your child’s pediatrician or teacher as soon as possible if you have concerns about your child’s language development, hearing, or sight.

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