A daily schedule in preschool adds the predictability that young children need to relax and feel comfortable in their learning environment. Whether your class is half-day, full-day, year-round, partial-year or only a few days a week, creating a regular routine is a must when it comes to keeping a calm classroom. While there's no set schedule that every early childhood room should follow, some basics will help with a predictable flow.
First Things First
Regardless of whether your class is a few hours long or runs all day, structure a morning meeting or circle time. This sets the tone for the day and can prepare the children for what's to come. Think of it as turning on the morning news. After you wake up, you flip on -- or log into -- the a.m. news to learn about the day's weather, traffic situation and current events. The morning meeting or circle time portion of your classroom is similar. You can include calendar time, weather chart and a pictorial time line of the day that include photos or drawings of each content area or activity.
Preschool center time provides a way for the young students to move through content areas, exploring and discovering while learning. If you have a co-teacher or an assistant you may open more than one center at a time. This block on your schedule needs to include time for the children to move through the day's centers without it feeling forced. You don't need to include each content area every day. During this part of your schedule the children can play and experience each content area in a hands-on way, developing social, emotional, cognitive and motor skills. For example, Monday is science and art, Tuesday is social studies and math and Wednesday is language and blocks. You may also include story time or library within the centers period.
Scheduling time for transitions is just as important to your classroom routine as the content blocks. Consciously creating these periods when the children move from one activity to the next can make the day run smoothly, according to teacher Jean Feldman on the Earlychildhood News website. Add a transition time activity between every activity or event. For example, sing a cleanup song after center time before the children move into outdoor play, or call all the children to the circle time area for a story before the daily nap.
Gross Motor Play
From indoor gym time to outdoor play, gross motor activities are a must in your daily schedule. Not only can these periods benefit the young child's physical development, but they can also play a role in cognitive, emotional and social areas. Depending on the length of your school day, you may want to have a morning and afternoon gross motor time or choose either a.m. or p.m. If you have an extended center time, you might reduce the gross motor period to once daily.
- Teach Preschool: The Importance of a Predictable Routine in Preschool
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Calendar Time for Young Children, Good Intentions Gone Awry
- Guilford Technical Community College: Importance of Play
- Earlychildhood News: Transition Time Tricks
- Scholastic Teacher Express: ECT Interviews: Eric Strickland, PhD on Exploring the Benefit of Outdoor Play
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.