How should one manage a regulation that requires a daily nap for all children under the age of 3?

First of all, check the regulations to determine if they state “sleep” or “rest”.  If it states “rest” there is no problem as you can say to the child, “We all need to rest for just a bit on our futons/mats.”  If a child is sleepy they will fall asleep.  If a child is not sleepy, allow that child to have a couple of books on their futon or an adult can read to a small group or tell a story to a small group.  After 20 or so minutes, allow the ones who are not sleeping to get up and help adults doing things like, loading the dishwasher, sweeping, wiping down the tables, etc. I do realize that the imposed sleep time can be very chaotic for some children and adults who have things they want to do during that “sleep” time.  

For children who do not normally nap, it is important to communicate this to parents as the child will most likely be sleepy earlier in the evening.
What we want to avoid is having to constantly interrupt a child’s natural sleep cycle.  Wake them up in order to get to school on time.  Wake them up if they have been asleep for a predetermined time.  Wake them up in order to go home.  When children sleep late into the afternoon, they will naturally not be sleepy early in the evening.

We must also be culturally sensitive to situations where children are naturally up quite late due to a cultural late dinner hour.  This situation needs to be discussed with the parents so that the BEST alternative for a child can be agreed upon, e.g., bedtime, nap or no nap, being awakened at a certain hour in the Infant Community.  Our (parents and school staff) goal is to support each child’s sleep needs so that their natural rhythm of sleep/awake is honoured.

Children, like adults, have a natural sleep/awake rhythm.  Some of us are early risers; others of us are night owls.  Children are the same.  We observe to try to discern who needs the most and who needs the least amount of sleep and/or rest and work to allow that to happen.

Child sleeping