Language Stories

How sleep can strengthen your child's language skills

Posted by Language Stars on Oct 31, 2017 12:22:24 PM


Everyone knows that sleep helps your body and mind recharge, but research shows the benefits of napping include helping children retain the knowledge they learned throughout the day.

A University of Arizona Child Cognitive Lab study found 3-years-olds who napped after learning new verbs had a better understanding of the words 24 hours later.

"There's a lot of evidence that different phases of sleep contribute to memory consolidation, and one of the really important phases is slow-wave sleep, which is one of the deepest forms of sleep," said study co-author Rebecca Gomez, principal investigator of the Child Cognition Lab. 

The quantity and quality of sleep can have a big impact on learning and memory, and according to studies like these, can impact language retention for even the youngest students.

"Sleep actually triggers changes in the brain that solidify memories, strengthening connections between brain cells and transferring information from one brain region to another," according to the article "Why Good Nap Time is Essential for Kids to Develop Language Skills."

This helps explain why the youngsters who napped had a better understanding of the words they learned before their snooze. It's safe to assume that any type of foreign language learning can benefit from plentiful sleep, so whether your child is learning a first, second or third language, sleep plays an important role in language retention.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, young children need around 11 to 12 hours of sleep each night, teens need between 8.5 and 9.25 hours and the average adult needs only between seven and nine hours per night. If your kids aren't getting this amount of sleep, consider these three tips to help ensure they get the rest they need to feel and learn their best.

  • Create a bedtime routine. This is particularly important for preschool and elementary-age kids because they thrive off of knowing what to expect. This may include a snack, bath, storytime, snuggles and lights out.
  • Adjust bedtime. Many kids go to sleep later than they should. Check out this handy sleep chart that shows you when your child should go to bed based on their age and wake-up time. You might be surprised you need to shift bedtime.
  • Create a calm environment. Children's bedrooms are often full of stimulation. A quiet, dark, cool room will help your child sleep best. Use black-out curtains/shades if necessary, remove toy temptations and keep tabs on the thermostat.
  • Supplement with naps. After the age of 5, most kids will have dropped their nap. Even if your child no longer naps regularly, if they have a tough night, don't be afraid to encourage an afternoon rest. A nap is a good way to fill in sleep gaps when necessary.

Sleep helps keep kids healthy, happy, and now we know smart, too! Make sleep a priority for your family and you'll get the best from them each and every day.

What parenting tip can you provide to help your fellow parents provide a solid night of sleep for their little one?

Topics: childhood development, parenting