Holding a school sleepover
If you’re looking for ideas to hold a school activity with a difference or reward the kids for all the hard work they’ve put in, it can be hard to beat a well-organised sleepover. Fun, games, perhaps pizza and movies or a talent show, there are all kinds of things you can do to make it an event that they’ll talk about for ages to come. Apart from the fun though, what do the kids get from a school sleepover that might not seem so obvious at first?
Learning and development benefits of a school sleepover
One of the greatest and most immediate benefits is connected with socialisation and becoming more independent. Many schools, especially here in the Czech Republic, have at least one week away from home during the school year, as a summer camp. This usually takes place up in the mountains somewhere and for the youngest kids, it can be a bit of a shock. They may be away from their parents for the first time and scared. The first night or two can be very hard for them, especially as they know they will be away for the whole week.
A sleepover at the school, on the other hand, is a much more manageable length of time for them. They will know that it’s only for one night and they will be picked up after breakfast, so parents don’t seem so distant. The combination of activities and the familiar environment of the school building can do a lot to overcome their fears.
Although it’s only for one night, the kids still have to organise themselves personally. They have to get changed and clean their teeth without direct, personal supervision, for example. They have to set up their bedspace to make themselves comfortable at night and in the morning they have to get up and put everything away.
For the older children, many of whom have already been to summer camps, this sort of thing is probably not a new or challenging experience. They are in a great position to help the younger ones. Having some kind of duty towards a younger child is going to help them develop a more mature attitude towards responsibility and reliability. Furthermore, it develops a bond between the children which can have many benefits in other school activities throughout the year – especially when the summer camp comes around!
The student council and the school sleepover
The initial idea for this sleepover actually came from the children themselves. Every class has a representative on the student council who submits proposals for consideration. One of these proposals was for a school sleepover and the council as a whole supported the idea.
The goal of the student council is to empower the children and allow them to have some input into their school. The staff’s side of the deal is that they try to make all these ideas happen or else provide sound reasons why not, e.g. health and safety or impracticality. By this we aim to build mutual trust and respect between pupils and staff.
Child protection at a school sleepover
Having agreed to hold a sleepover in the school, the staff have to make sure it is organised safely and legally. Different countries, regions and cultures all have their own rules and expectations for this, so as an international school, we have to make sure we respect all of them.
As we are based in the Czech Republic, we first of all have to make sure we follow Czech laws. As a British School, we have a lot of guidance from Britain to take into account. As an International School, we have pupils of many different cultures and background, all of whom deserve our complete respect.
As the staff planned the activity, we compared the various rules, laws and guidelines. In every case where there was a choice, we followed the higher standard. Boys and girls slept in separate classrooms, with male and female staff in the classrooms either side of them. Another teacher slept in the hall in case of sleepwalkers or any children planning any mischief after lights-out.
We had staff who hold Czech qualifications for overnight care of pupils and qualified first aiders. Food, such as the pizza in the evening and everything for breakfast, was ordered in line with all information available about allergies, special dietary and religious requirements.
As well as safety responsibility from the school’s side, there were special behavioral reminders for the children, over and above the normal school rules. Although we have wonderful, well-behaved pupils, it was a reminder that safety is everyone’s responsibility.