Want to improve your child's language skills? Then
If you want your child to improve their language skills, it may be a good idea to let them catch a few extra hours of shut eye.
A new study has found that children who have naps in the day are better at remembering new words.
The researchers suggest that even though pre-school is the time when naps start to dwindle, parents might want to hang onto the practice a bit longer.
Researchers from the University of Arizona studied verb learning in three-year-olds, and found that those who napped after learning new verbs had a better understanding of the words when tested 24 hours later.
The children were divided into two groups habitual nappers, who already nap four or more days a week, and non-habitual nappers, who did not.
Within each group, children were randomly assigned to either a napping condition, in which they would nap for at least 30 minutes after learning a new verb, or a wakefulness condition, in which they would not nap after learning.
The children were taught two made-up verbs 'blicking' and 'rooping' , were shown a video of two different actors performing separate whole-body actions to correspond with each verb.
Twenty-four hours later, the children were shown videos of two new actors performing the same actions they learned the previous day and were asked to point at which person was 'blicking' and which was 'rooping.'
The results showed that children who had napped within an hour of learning the verbs performed better than those who stayed awake for at least five hours after learning, regardless of whether they were habitual nappers.
The researchers chose to study verb learning, because verbs are typically more difficult to learn than simple nouns that often are children's first words, such as 'Mum,' 'Dad,' and 'dog.'
Michelle Sandoval, who led the study, said: 'Verbs are interesting because we know they are very challenging for children to learn and to retain over time.
'Individual objects have clear boundaries, and children learn about those very early in development before they hit their first birthday, they know a lot about objects.
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'Verbs aren't as neatly packaged. Besides a physically perceptible action, a verb contains information about the number of people involved and can contain information about when the action took place.'
The researchers were interested in napping's effects on preschoolers in particular because that tends to be an age when children start napping less.
But while it appears that napping could continue to benefit three-year-olds' learning, the researchers stress that parents shouldn't necessarily worry if they can't get their child to nap during the day.
Instead, the most important thing is total amount of sleep. Preschool-age children should be getting 10 to 12 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, whether it's all at night or a combination of nighttime sleep and napping.
Ms Gomez said: 'We know that when children don't get enough sleep it can have long-term consequences.
'It's important to create opportunities for children to nap to have a regular time in their schedule that they could do that.'