The sleeping elephant in the room: Practices and policies regarding sleep/rest time in early childhood education and care

Sally Staton
Susan Irvine
Cassandra Pattinson
Simon Smith
Karen Thorpe
Queensland University of Technology

The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (NQF) in Australia identifies the need for services to make provision for each child’s sleep, rest and relaxation within a national early years’ policy framework. The framework also requires that opportunities for learning and physical health are optimised, and that the agency of each child and their family is respected. Against this background, the scheduling of a standard sleep time in early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres remains a common practice, even in rooms catering for older children for whom daytime sleep may no longer be necessary. This article draws upon existing scholarship to explore the issues and tensions associated with sleep/rest, in the context of Australian curriculum and quality standards documents. We review accounts from educators, parents and children and contemporary views regarding high-quality practice in ECEC, with an aim of supporting critical reflection on practice and continuous quality improvement in ECEC.

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 40 No 4 December 2015

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