Ruth Silverman (pictured left) is Clinical Services Manager, Child Development Services at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, and the sleep expert behind our Sleep Game. In her guest blog, Ruth explains why early years practitioners should be thinking about supporting children and families on sleep:
Teachers, Early Years Practitioners and other educational professionals play a vital role in educating children on healthy lifestyles, making wise choices and setting positive health habits which can last a lifetime. We talk frequently about healthy eating and exercise, but how often do we think about sleep?
Talking and teaching about sleep and embedding good sleep habits are as vital as eating healthily. In your early years setting, you can help children form healthy sleep habits by building activities and role play around sleep, bedtime routine and time. Teaching children about good bedtime routines and sleep associations can empower them to choose healthy sleeping habits.
A good bedtime routine should help children to fall asleep. As well as activities about bedtime, you could display visual creative work around the setting showing what a good bedtime routine looks like. This can help parents too - but it means that staff must understand the process of a good bedtime routine.
When a child is not sleeping well, nursery or children's centre staff can be the first person a parent turns to for support - so it's essential that early years teams understand the importance of sleep and are well prepared with safe and helpful advice to pass on to families. These are just a few of the reasons why Early Years Practitioners should pay attention to sleep and think about training staff on this vital aspect of health and wellbeing - staff who are well informed on sleep can help children and families develop healthy habits that last a lifetime.
Ruth worked with us to develop The Sleep Game - a group learning activity for professionals working with children and families. It helps them to improve their knowledge of sleep, developing the confidence to successfully support and guide children and families to get a good night’s sleep. For more information, visit www.sleepgame.co.uk
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