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The Difference a Good Nap Makes!

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Projeto Tamamdaré receives, every day, children ages 2 through to 15 years of age and have as their mission the provision of assistance to 400 children and some 300 impoverished families.

In February of this year, Happy Child International’s Chairman, John Doddrell, and Head of Operations, Caroline Taylor, visited their beautiful premises located in Tamandaré town, 100 km south of the metropolitan city of Recife, Pernambuco. This is where 400 children spend many hours of their time. A coordinator responsible for the 200 children enrolled in the early childhood education programme explained that the children were going to sleep very soon. Sure enough, about 20 minutes later, not one child was awake!

Establishing a reliable routine for the children ages 2 to 5 is a cornerstone of any educational intervention throughout the globe. Small children feel safer if they can predict what is going to happen next. They also have very specific needs for sleep. Tarcísia Rose de Sousa Farias, Projeto Tamandaré’s educational coordinator, strongly supports this idea: “Routine helps children to thrive, renew their strength and grow. Their families, unfortunately, do not provide a routine in their homes, so we make it a foundational part of their experience here. Rest is essential. Studies have shown the importance of sleep, especially in this stage of life. After a nap, they are calmer, ready to take on the activities we propose for them. Napping helps with their memory and cognition.”

If you are curious about the routine established for children in Brazilian culture, here is a quick summary of Projeto Tamandaré’s day for small children. When they arrive, they are received with a prayer and a story, then they eat. After that they are led through several activities. Late in the morning, they take a shower followed by lunch, and lie down to nap for an hour. After the nap they are led through the afternoon activities and prepare to leave for home with a late afternoon light meal.

Tarcísia likes to tell us about the parent’s admiration for the teachers as they seem to lead the children so seamlessly through the day.

She says, “Mothers will report that their child would not eat this or that food, that they would not sit to eat, grazing throughout the day. Now, they have not only improved in the food department but they also tell their parents that they would like to take a nap!”

She also explains that the children assisted by Projeto Tamamdaré come from very low-income families who are not even included in the formal job market. Their lives are not economically stable and many of them have a hard time providing their children with any kind of routine. “Our most challenging days are Monday, because of the weekend or the day after a long holiday. We know that many of these children are left to fend for themselves and do not even get a chance to sleep properly in these days. That’s why we consider the routine we establish as the most important feature of our programme for this stage.”

Watch for the second post in this series to answer this question: “Why is it so difficult for these families to follow a basic routine for their young?”

Writer by: Elsie Gilbert

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