Does Nap Time Help Children Learn?

The University of Sheffield and Ruhr University in Germany have been doing some research into how children develop and retain skills they have recently learnt. A group of 216, 6-12 month-olds where shown how to remove and manipulate a mitten from a hand puppet and given the chance to perform the actions again after 4 hours had past and then again after 24 hours. Children who had a nap for at least 30 minutes with in four hours of learning the skill were able to actively remember the actions. Those who didn't have that nap with in the 4 hours after learning struggled to remember the skill they were shown earlier.

Dr Jane Herbert from the University of Sheffield’s, said, "These findings are particularly interesting to both parents and educationalists because they suggest that the optimal time for infants to learn new information is just before they have a sleep. Until now people have presumed that the best time for infants to learn is when they are wide-awake, rather than when they are starting to feel tired, but our results show that activities occurring just before infants have a nap can be particularly valuable and well-remembered.’

‘This study however examined learning opportunities around naturally occurring naps and shows just how valuable activities like reading books with young children just before they go down to sleep can be.’

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