Overstating the Obvious: Naps, Bedtimes & Chekhov

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.  DSCN1399

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.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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19 Responses to Overstating the Obvious: Naps, Bedtimes & Chekhov

  1. Colline says:

    Full day kindergarten has started here in Toronto and the one thing left out of the schedule is the nap. It is a pity as by the time afternoon comes, many need it.

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  2. OmaOrBubby says:

    I agree – these grand research “studies” are hysterical. Like we need them to tell us what we know already? But then again, there must be a demographic (probably new moms and dads) who don’t trust their instincts and need these “experts” to tell them what they don’t realize they know already! 🙂 Great post…

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    • Thank you! Even new parents I think would see beyond these studies. (or at least the first two.) Remember when we couldn’t wait until either naptime or bedtime to have some peace and quiet and time for ourselves, no matter how little?

      On Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 7:21 PM, cyclingrandma

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  3. Had to laugh. I often feel this way about scientific studies Lisa.

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  4. Thanks Lisa. I can’t tell you the number of times I have recommended naps and structured bedtime to my patients to alter bad behavior in their children. I am still surprised at the number of parents who still have their kids sleep in their bed. I was so happy as a new Mom when my son slept through the night and was proud of his new bed. We have never had a problem with naps or bedtime.
    I can attest to the benefit of reading the classics. I have reread Jane Austen, Dickens, DH Lawrence and am starting Chekhov. I find a rhythm and a flow that is calming and does help make me more empathetic.

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  5. Often when I read studies I think to myself, ‘well duh.’ But there’s something about people, especially in the 1st world, that we need proof of something we know to be true…and we can’t really believe it or share it as a value until there is proof.

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  6. esther w. says:

    A girl after my own heart! Love that girl. =D

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  7. Okay — so I did not know that about literature. Makes sense but I would not have guessed that one. As to naps…. I LOVE naps. I only need 20 minutes but wow — what a difference those 20 minutes make when I can sneak them in. And isn’t that a statement!. As children, napping is an accepted and expected pattern of life, as an adult, I feel like I have to sneak it in!

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  8. I love the siesta idea, but just don’t have the time!

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  9. hugmamma says:

    Sometimes I think moms should write books about their life experiences in raising families. Then there’d be a wealth of information out there by the real experts…not folks who interpret a collection of data accumulated from those “in the know.” So…shall we start the ball rolling? 🙂

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    • Sounds like a plan. I’m sure plenty of the parenting books are written by real parents– but these studies really do amuse/anger me give there’s so much that could be studied!

      On Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 3:29 PM, cyclingrandma

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  10. ShimonZ says:

    No question about it, napping is a great pleasure at school. But the truth is, that they’re not only good for the preschooler. I think one of the tragedies of education are those all-night cramming sessions where young people try to prepare for a test. How much more one learns when keeping a moderate pace, and then sleeping well before the test.

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