I am a mom who can't get even my own kids to bed let alone an entire classroom worth of 3 and 4 year olds.
With Mr. H (aka bedtime guru) out of town I am totally screwed at bedtime. Yesterday my mom and dad watched the kids while I was at work. After dinner I ran to the library with Biscuit and by the time I got home Oscar was sound asleep.
This is the very precise system my mom suggested. I can't really vouch for it as I failed tonight but it did seem to be working before I fell for the more-milk-request-trick and destroyed all my progress. Still, if you're struggling with 3-year-old bedtime maybe it will work for you? Mom, correct me in the comments if I missed anything.
1. Child must be NEXT to you in bed, not laying on you. This is so you don't disturb him when you leave.
2. Read stories. If child wiggles or talks stop reading. Don't comment just stop and remain silent. Resume reading as soon as wiggling/talking stops (milk may be drunk during story if that's part of your routine)
3. Turn out lights.
4. Offer a song. Sing quietly while patting/rubbing child. (For Oscar my mom swears the most soothing thing is to rub one eyebrow from the center of his forehead across and down to the corner of his eye gently closing the eyelid a bit as you move your finger.)
5. Most important, throughout the entire process, NEVER MAKE EYE CONTACT.
6. After 1-2 songs, child should be asleep (if you're my mom) or maybe drowsy (if you're me). Perhaps keeps singing? Kiss and leave? Step 6 is at your discretion. I know the answer ISN'T get more milk.....
For pre-school teachers, step 6 is the final step. For the inept (me) the process continues
7. Another story (repeat twice)
8. Two more songs with eyebrow rubbing (repeat twice)
9. a discussion about not needing to sleep with his sister's hair clip
10. a search for bunny
11. despair (we're an hour in at this point)
12. carrying back to bed after an escape (repeat twice)
13. ignoring and resignation that although you can clearly hear lego play occuring at least he's in his room and pretty quiet.
14. relief that he has dosed off, legos in hand
15. careful readjustment so he doesn't fall off the bed.
Step 16 is optional. Good luck.