The other day, during an activity where each child was given a card with a name on it for sorting by the number of syllables, Martin stood up when it was his turn, walked up to me and burst into tears. He then literally fell into me, hugging me as he cried. To be clear, Martin has never done this before. He was, quite simply, exhausted.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (who knew such a place existed… if I get a job there do I get to nap all day long?), kindergarten age children need between eleven and thirteen hours of sleep a night. With a full day program, we often see sleepy heads by the end of the day. Funny thing is, during our rest time, most children don’t actually rest. I think they’re afraid they’re going to miss something.
I’ve had many parents look surprised when we have the sleep talk. It usually goes something like this:
Me: I’ve noticed little Johnny seems tired most days, what time does he go to sleep?
Parent: Oh usually he get’s into bed around nine o’clock and then we read and tuck him in.
Me: (as tenderly as possible) Um, well, I usually go to bed at nine o’clock and I’m a grown man. Five-year-olds need on average about twelve hours of sleep a night.
Parent – look of surprise and shock and then: Oh, we’ll have to work on going to bed earlier!
As for Martin, he clearly hadn’t gotten his eleven to thirteen the night before. It was as if he needed to put his pajamas back on and go curl up in the corner of the room. I felt bad for him and also wondered if there was a reason he was so tired.
“Martin, you seem tired today, do you know what time you went to bed last night?” I asked him.
“I’m so tired ‘cause my mom tucked me in and then poof she was waking me up,” he stammered.
That was all I was getting out of him. We tried to have him take it easy the rest of the day and I told him to try and catch up on some sleep over the weekend. He did offer many hugs throughout the day, which while nice, I think was really just a way for him rest for a few seconds.