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Surprising Science

Naps Help Children Learn

Children not only need to nap, but should be encouraged to nap.

What’s the Latest Development?

While there is more pressure than ever on children to engage in activities and master their academic curricula, taking time out of the day for a nap increases children’s ability to learn. In a new study published in the PNAS, researchers tested 40 children in the morning by showing them a picture on a card, then flipping the card over and asking the child to remember its location on a grid. “At around 2 p.m., half the children were encouraged to nap, while the other half were given activities to keep them awake. The researchers re-tested the children after nap time, and again the next morning. All the children participated both as nappers and non-nappers.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The study found that children who took naps were better at remembering where the image on the card had been, suggesting their ability to retain information was aided by taking a nap. Nappers also scored higher on the test the following day. Rebecca Spencer, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of the study said: “Children not only need to nap, but should be encouraged to nap. Schools are getting pressure to add curriculum and activities, but naps serve an academic function as well. A nap really supports the goals of preschool.”

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Read it at the New York Times


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