Kid napped

March 22, 2004

NO NAPPING? As public schools come under pressure to devote every minute to academics, nap time may become a thing of the past, the Washington Post reported last week. Already, Anne Arundel County schools offer nap-free prekindergarten. The Prince George's County school superintendent has told state legislators that naps and other "baby school stuff" should be abolished.

We understand the education imperatives, but we also know 4-year-olds -- tornadoes of curiosity and churning sparks that need to be recharged, often on their own timetable. No rule or law of man or institution can stop a 4-year-old who is intent on falling asleep. So go ahead, just try to ban the nap. And indulge us this fantasy. . .

Dear parents: We felt it was urgent today to address with a note home an incident that occurred in Prekindergarten Achievers class. We want to assure you that at no time did any child go missing from school, as rumored. During a routine period change between Phonemic Awareness and World Cultures, a teacher aide noticed that one of our Achievers was not with his group. All school security procedures were followed. Within minutes, the student was found safe in his homeroom. He had missed the class change because he had crawled into the unlocked snack cupboard to "rest his eyes."

Today's napping incident is not our first. On Tuesday, the blue group put their heads down on the math manipulatives table in the middle of Easy Equations. During story time, several Achievers curled up on the Great Authors floor mats and started snoring. Our janitor recently found pillows and stuffed animals hidden in the playset. And last Friday, Mrs. Winslow discovered a child sleeping under the principal's desk.

We expected a few napping incidents early in the school year. We now feel sufficient time has passed for Achievers to make the transition. We're doing our part, alternating periods of active learning, physical education and quiet time. Responding to your requests for a challenging hands-on curriculum, we recently eliminated a quiet period and added Earth Science and Japanese to our already demanding program.

We see now that we may need to revisit that schedule change. Meanwhile, we're urging all families to review the no-naps policy in the county school handbook. Parents will receive a note the first time a child sleeps in class. A second incident will prompt a telephone conference. Further incidents will lead to an in-school meeting with the teacher and the school social worker; intervention may be necessary. Students who cannot stay alert through a full day will not be ready to advance to kindergarten.

We know that our Achievers have busy lives, with family commitments and play dates. Please review your child's schedule and ensure that he or she is receiving enough sleep: at least 10 hours per night are recommended for 4-year-olds.

Together we can achieve our school-readiness goals for every child.

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