I accompanied my son Jacob to pick up his two kids from preschool the other day. On the walk home, we asked them what they did in school. Meira, 2, offered that she napped. That seemed the highlight or at least all she felt like sharing.
I remembered an article about naps and preschoolers I’d read recently and forwarded to my kids; I’m always on the lookout for ways to help with parenting challenges.
Naps, researchers have found, help preschoolers learn. Gee, they needed a study to determine that? Napping is a huge part of the preschooler day. The kids who were studied were given—you guessed it—TESTS- after napping and after not napping. The nappers did better! I’d venture that even older kids and adults can benefit from a little catnap now and then.
Another news article, linked the importance of regular bedtimes to children’s behavior. Wow! Any parent or teacher knows this! If kids go to bed at a regular time, they’ll do better in school. (Think, testing!) I know if I don’t get enough sleep, I can be cranky and unfocused. Imagine how lack of sleep affects youth! Kids crave routine and structure. Throw in reading a few books or telling a couple stories, sweep the bed for monsters, tuck in the stuffed animals, and turn off the lights at the same time each night. You’ll be amazed at the results.
I’m reminded of yet another recent story about how reading classic literature develops more empathy than reading popular fiction or even non-fiction. I’m a big fan of a balanced reading diet—good books, a bit of junk, and all genres. But I know that if I really want to understand human motivation and character, I should either watch or read a Shakespearean play. Or read Dickens or Chekhov and the like. Bodice rippers and potboilers just don’t cut it. This study found that after people read literary fiction, they—guess what? “…Performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence.” Furthermore, the good stuff “leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.”
I’m really glad scientists are studying these important subjects. Sometimes I wonder if a. they’re parents, or b. they remember being children and had parents and grandparents; or went to school and had a teacher who encouraged them to read a great book and discuss it.