Schools will be expected to provide quiet times when their youngest pupils can rest as part of the so-called "nappy curriculum" for children from birth to the age of five years.
"Children need time to relax as well as to be involved in stimulating activities," says the draft early-years foundation stage curriculum, which is published for consultation today. It continues: "Some children start school when they are only just four and may find the long school day very tiring. They should be able to rest and be quiet if they need to."
The draft curriculum lays out what is expected of babies and toddlers and those working with them in terms of care and education. It will become law in 2008.
It says that many children may have left home early in the morning and will not get back until late in the evening, in which case those looking after them need to work together to plan the child's day - even if they only see them for a few hours each day. For example, a child who has been at nursery and is then picked up by a childminder should be able to lie on a sofa and eat snacks if necessary.
Beverley Hughes, minister for children, was due to speak about the issue at The TES and Nursery World early-years and primary teaching exhibition, taking place in Manchester today.
Ms Hughes said: "The early-years foundation stage is part of reassuring parents about the quality and consistency of education, wherever their child is."
www.dfes.gov.ukconsultation. The consultation period ends on July 28