The early closure of California schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many families across the state adopting new routines to keep their children learning. In a previous entry, we shared the importance of routines for children of all ages. Active learning is an important part of any routine for school-aged children and balancing active learning time with planned quiet time is important for the wellbeing of children and parents/guardians alike.
“Quiet time” is time that is dedicated to providing children of all ages an opportunity to physically relax, take a mental break from their academics, and manage their emotions, all of which are part of improving their general wellness (daily activities that support your mental, emotional and physical health). This time can also help children process something they may have learned earlier in the day and can be especially helpful for children that have difficulty managing anxiety. Communities around the country have been severely disrupted in recent weeks and children often feel the effects of these disruptions. Just as it is important that learning continues to happen at home, it is equally important that the mental health of children is monitored and managed. Luckily, quiet time can help as it has many benefits that are important for all children and it should be part of any child’s daily routine.
So what does quiet time look like in your home? Children may not be used to having a quiet time set aside for them, so it’s important to share with children that:
- Quiet time is a time where everyone can play, read and/or relax alone and quietly
- Quiet time is for everyone, and that you will also participate (when feasible for you to do so)
- Others are not bothered during quiet time and talking to others should only happen if there is an emergency (be sure to define what you consider to be an emergency)
- Everyone will have their own place during quiet time and take a moment to decide who will spend quiet time where
- Provide some examples of things they can do during quiet time (see below)
- A timer will be set and quiet time will be over when the alarm goes off
Like any new activity, it may take children some practice to become comfortable with quiet time. It is important to be patient even if a child cannot stay quiet for the selected amount of time. For example, if quiet time was supposed to be 30-minutes long but your child can only stay quiet for 20-minutes, celebrate that they made it more than halfway through the scheduled time and try for the full 30-minutes the next day. Remind your child that quiet time is important for everyone and that it will continue to be part of your daily routine.
The daily length of quiet time can vary depending on the age of children. Below are some general guidelines for how long quiet time should last for different age groups:
- 3-5 years old: 20 to 30-minutes of quiet time (you can start with a 10-minute quiet time and build up to 20 to 30-minutes)
- 6-7 years old: 30 to 40-minutes of quiet time (you can start with a 15-minute quiet time and build up to 30 to 40-minutes)
- 8 years old and up: 45-minutes to one hour of quiet time (you can start with a 30-minute quiet time and build up to 45-minutes to an hour)
There are many different activities that can be part of quiet time (watching television or playing video games should not generally be a part of quiet time). Naps or independent reading time can be done during quiet time. Here are some other activities that you can consider:
- Coloring in a book or drawing and coloring on blank paper is a great activity for children of all ages
- Quietly playing with toys, dolls and other fun things can be done so long as it is done quietly and independently
- Writing and journaling is a great activity for children seven and older, allowing them to either write their own creative stories or journal their own reflections. For tips on journaling, click here. For tips on helping your child write a story, click here.
- Playing the card game “Solitaire” is a good activity for children eight and older. For the rules of Solitaire, click here.
- Mindfulness activities, which promote a sense of calm and awareness, are good exercises for children three and older. For some examples of mindfulness activities, click here.
- Meditation activities can be very helpful for children eight and older. Apps like Smiling Mind or Headspace can be utilized to help practice meditation. For more on meditation, click here.
The strategies above can help families create useful quiet time for children. But it is important for parents/guardians to also take advantage of quiet time for themselves. With schools closed, parents/guardians have been tasked with being teachers in addition to their regular parenting activities and jobs. Adding quiet time to a family’s daily routine can parents/guardians a scheduled break during the day to relax, read, or address an important work item. Quiet time can be helpful in providing a break for the whole family!
In summary, quiet time is important for children and has benefits for adults as part of a daily routine. Quiet time is part of wellness and is critical for people of all ages. Families In Schools has created health and wellness tips to help families find balance and create space for taking care of their mental and emotional health. To take a look at the Families In Schools Wellness Challenge, please visit here. Most of all, remember to take some quiet time each day to help children relax, unwind, and reset. And make some quiet time for yourself, too, to balance the everyday demands.