International Journal of Early Childhood

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 423–442 | Cite as

“I Have to Rest All the Time Because You are Not Allowed to Play”: Exploring Children’s Perceptions of Autonomy During Sleep-Time in Long Day Care Services

  • Michaela Nothard
  • Susan Irvine
  • Maryanne Theobald
  • Sally Staton
  • Cassandra Pattinson
  • Karen Thorpe
Original Article

Abstract

Daytime sleep is a significant part of the daily routine for children attending early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in Australia and many other countries. The practice of sleep-time can account for a substantial portion of the day in ECEC and often involves a mandated sleep/rest period for all children, including older preschool-aged children. Yet, there is evidence that children have a reduced need for daytime sleep as they approach school entry age and that continuation of mandated sleep-time in ECEC for preschool-aged children may have a negative impact on their health, development, learning and well-being. Mandated sleep-time practices also go against current quality expectations for services to support children’s agency and autonomy in ECEC. This study documents children’s reports of their experiences of sleep-time in ECEC. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 54 preschool-aged children (44–63 months) across four long day ECEC services that employed a range of sleep-time practices. Findings provide a snapshot of children’s views and experiences of sleep-time and perceptions of autonomy-supportive practices. These provide a unique platform to support critical reflection on sleep-time policies and practices, with a view to continuous quality improvement in ECEC. This study forms part of a programme of work from the Sleep in Early Childhood research group. Our work examines sleep practices in ECEC, the subsequent staff, parent and child experiences and impacts on family and child learning and development outcomes.

Keywords

Sleep-time Early childhood education and care (ECEC) Preschool Autonomy 

Résumé

Les périodes de sommeil dans la journée font partie du quotidien des enfants fréquentant les établissements d’accueil du jeune enfant (EAJE) en Australie et dans beaucoup d’autres pays. Les périodes de sommeil peuvent représenter une part importante de la journée en EAJE et comprennent souvent une période de sommeil/repos obligatoire pour tous les enfants, y compris les enfants d’âge préscolaire plus âgés. Pourtant, on constate que les enfants ont moins besoin de sommeil dans la journée lorsqu’ils approchent l’âge d’entrée à l’école et que la poursuite de ces périodes de sommeil obligatoires en EAJE pour les enfants d’âge préscolaire pourrait avoir un impact négatif sur leur santé, leur développement, leur apprentissage et leur bien-être. La pratique de périodes de sommeil obligatoires est aussi contraire aux attentes actuelles de qualité pour que les services favorisent l’action et l’autonomie des enfants en EAJE. Cette étude documente comment les enfants vivent ces périodes de sommeil en EAJE. Des entrevues semi-structurées ont été menées auprès de 54 enfants d’âge préscolaire (de 44 à 63 mois) au cours de quatre journées en services d’EAJE à plein temps, qui avaient recours à diverses pratiques de périodes de sommeil. Les résultats donnent un aperçu des opinions et du vécu des enfants concernant les périodes de sommeil et de leurs perceptions des pratiques favorisant l’autonomie. Ils constituent une fondation unique permettant une réflexion critique sur les politiques et pratiques en matière de périodes de sommeil, en vue d’une amélioration continue de la qualité en EAJE. Cette étude fait partie d’un programme de travail du groupe de recherche Sleep in Early Childhood [le sommeil pendant la petite enfance]. Notre travail examine les pratiques de sommeil en EAJE, le vécu du personnel, des parents et des enfants qui en découle et leurs impacts sur la famille et les effets sur l’apprentissage et le développement des enfants.

Resumen

El sueño diurno es una parte importante de la rutina diaria de los niños que acuden a los servicios de atención y educación de la primera infancia (AEPI) en Australia y muchos otros países. La práctica de la hora de dormir puede suponer una parte importante del día en la AEPI y, a menudo implica un período de sueño/descanso obligatorio para todos los niños, incluidos aquellos en edad preescolar. Sin embargo, existen pruebas que demuestran que los niños presentan una necesidad inferior de sueño diurno a medida que se acercan a la edad de escolarización, y que el carácter obligatorio de este tiempo de descanso en la AEPI para niños en edad preescolar puede tener un impacto negativo en su salud, desarrollo, aprendizaje y bienestar. La práctica del descanso obligatorio también va en contra de las expectativas actuales de calidad en los servicios que fomentan la autonomía de los niños en la AEPI. Este estudio documenta informes realizados por niños sobre sus experiencias de la hora de dormir en la AEPI. Se llevaron a cabo entrevistas semi-estructuradas a 54 niños en edad preescolar (de 44 a 63 meses) en cuatro servicios de AEPI de jornada completa que empleaban una serie de prácticas de tiempo de sueño. Los resultados proporcionan una instantánea de las opiniones y experiencias de los tiempos de sueño y las percepciones de las prácticas de apoyo a la autonomía de los niños. Estos proporcionan una plataforma única para la reflexión crítica sobre las políticas y prácticas en cuanto a los tiempos de descanso con miras a la mejora de la calidad en la AEPI. Este estudio forma parte de un programa de trabajo del grupo de investigación Sleep in Early Childhood (Sueño en la primera infancia). Nuestro trabajo examina las prácticas del sueño en la AEPI y las posteriores experiencias del personal, padres e hijos, así como el impacto en el desarrollo y aprendizaje, tanto de la familia como del niño.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michaela Nothard
    • 1
  • Susan Irvine
    • 1
  • Maryanne Theobald
    • 1
  • Sally Staton
    • 1
  • Cassandra Pattinson
    • 1
  • Karen Thorpe
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Psychology and Counseling and School of Early ChildhoodQueensland University of TechnologyKelvin GroveAustralia

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