Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ask and answer

It's been a long time since I did an "Ask and answer" but this question got me thinking.

"Hi PinkiePirate,

I'm just curious what is Ryan's sleeping schedule like on a typical day? ie. how many hours does he sleep a day? ... I am a working mum of 3 year old too and I put him to bed at 8pm. ... My challenge is this boy just loves action... running around, dancing, spinning, etc. So he cannot sit down for too long and I can't get him to sit at the desk or listen to a story even. Since I want him to be happy, I play whatever he wants to play when I get home from work (and that is usually playing cars/trains/running around, etc). Is there any advice for me?" -
Anonymous commented on "The Last Two Weeks", 28 March 2013

Hi there!

Your son's routine sounds absolutely perfect for a three year old. I am wholly for the idea that a three year old should be, and needs to be, running around and playing. You don't need any advice!

Okay, first things first. You asked about Ryan's bedtime and sleep hours.

For 3-5 year olds, I understand that their average sleep needs are 11-15 hours a day in total, although there will be children who need more than that. Ryan's total sleep hours are in that range, although it does vary slightly from day to day. He naps sometimes in the afternoon (nowadays not so much) and, if so, then he will get to bed a little later that night. Also, bedtime on weekends is usually earlier than weekdays because weekends are more tiring for him.

Once his head hits the pillow, he is usually asleep or half-asleep within 15 minutes or less, although I do have to lie down with him. He wakes up naturally in the morning, ie. without me having to wake him, which, to me, is a sign that he gets enough sleep.

Little Rachel arrived in June last year and Ryan started school in August, two months later. Prior to that, we were keeping very late hours. As working parents, we had only the hours after work to spend with Ryan and so we tried to make the most of that time. This "work hard, play hard" routine was all right for Ryan because he made up his sleep hours during the day when he was at his nanny's place. Mornings were difficult though. Sometimes, we had to carry Ryan, still sleeping, into the car to fetch him to his nanny's place. As you can imagine, Richard and I didn't get enough sleep for ourselves.

Once Ryan started school, keeping late hours was no longer feasible because he had to get up bright and early for school. So we settled into a saner routine, which was made even more necessary because we had little Rachel as well.

We do squeeze in some activities for Ryan in between dinner and bedtime. Violin practise and linking memory are the staples, but in total these take less than 15 minutes. Other than that, we generally let him do whatever he wants, although we do suggest or offer him activities. He loves playing with his various alphabet sets, construction sets (building blocks and train tracks) and doing puzzles. He also loves running around, dancing and hopping about.

Having done both "programmes", I would say - stick to an early bedtime. Choose one or two focus activities that you want to introduce to your son, and let him play, play, play the rest of the time. Stick to those one or two focus activities until he has mastered them, then choose another one or two. Or you can try two or three, if he's more interested.

You mentioned that your three year old "cannot sit down for too long". Sounds perfectly normal to me! Ryan is like that. His hands may be playing with something, but his legs will be kicking about or his feet will be tapping or his body will be twisting left and right. Of course, there are times when he stays still, but that does depend on a few factors - how interesting the activity is to him and how much attention he needs in order to accomplish it.

I would also encourage you to read these articles, which explain why boys move about so much! 

I do have one tip. If you want to train your child to sit down (for short periods), put him in a high chair. Do a very short activity (not more than 10 minutes) and after that, give him a high-five and let him go. It doesn't even have to be an activity on a table - all it needs to be is interesting. Keep it very short, keep it interesting, and give him your full attention throughout. It may be tough at first but try it once a night over a few nights and he will learn the routine. If the activity is interesting enough to him, he will even look forward to it. 10 minutes a day learning in a high chair - more than enough for a three year old.

I have to clarify that very few of our home learning activities are done at a desk. I know these are the ones that usually end up being photographed but that's only because those are the only times when I can grab my camera! Most of the time, Ryan is bopping and hopping about. In my view, learning happens whether his backside is or is not in a chair, so it's all good to me.

I have some plans to write more about our home learning activities, so I hope you do pop by again and check out those posts to come. Hopefully they will give you some ideas and inspire you to come up with some of your own! In the meantime, thanks for dropping by and thanks for leaving your comments!


Anonymous said...

Hi there, thanks for sharing the two articles, they are helpful. (:

Joanne said...

Wow, thank you for that post!
I'm glad I came across your blog.
I have a young one as well and you're right, even just 10 minutes can be a good "lesson" for them.
I must remember that - often I get discouraged when my 4 year old wants 'out' after just 5-10mins and I get upset thinking he hasn't learn much. We adults are too used to sitting at the desk for hours!

Joanne said...

By the way, you have a very handsome boy! :)

Pinkie Pirate said...

ps famile - you're welcome. :)

Pinkie Pirate said...

Joanne - thank you for your kind words and thanks for dropping by!

Anonymous said...

i used your tip on my very active 18th mth old son, and i must say it really helped. Now, 3 weeks later, he is even willing to sit down with me anywhere to do some activities with me. Tks for the tip!

On a separate note, I read your post on the superblist of activities that you do with Ryan every night. I can find it very inspiring. However, I cant find it now, do you think you can direct me to that post again. i will like to show it to my hubby? Hopefully it will inspire him too. Thanks in advance..

Pinkie Pirate said...

Hi Lynn, great to know of your success with your son! You made it happen with time and patience - well done!
I'm not sure which post you are referring to. Is it this one - http://bubble-belly.blogspot.sg/2012/03/typical-evening-at-our-house-episode-2.html ? I have to clarify that we don't do our homelearning like this anymore, for various reasons. If you are thinking of putting together activities, remember to include lots of free and unstructured play, lots of movement and very importantly - lots of downtime. The more activities you give him, the more downtime he will need.

Subscribe to our feed




(function (tos) { window.setInterval(function () { tos = (function (t) { return t[0] == 50 ? (parseInt(t[1]) + 1) + ':00' : (t[1] || '0') + ':' + (parseInt(t[0]) + 10); })(tos.split(':').reverse()); window.pageTracker ? pageTracker._trackEvent('Time', 'Log', tos) : _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Time', 'Log', tos]); }, 10000); })('00');