One of the questions that I receive from other teachers, more than another other question is, “What does your preschool schedule look like?” This is a tough question to answer because although our routine is the same every day, the schedule is a bit flexible and it’s very much personalized to suit the needs of my own students, my own classroom, and my own day. Having said that, I’d like to offer some tips for making your own schedule to suit your own needs.
…and, as requested, I will share what our actual day looks like!
Consider these points when creating a schedule to meet the needs of your own class:
- When do they arrive? At the same time, or is it staggered?
- How old are the students? What is their attention span?
- What are the non-negotiable parts of your day? (arrival time? meal times? outdoor time? dismissal?)
- How many students do you have? Are they all the same age, or they in a mixed age group?
Just like everything we do in our classroom, the schedule has to be a work in progress! We create one, and then adjust it based on what works and what is not working as well. In my experience with creating a preschool schedule, these are the keys to making it work:
Plan the order of activities, not the exact times!
We’re talking about 3 and 4-year-olds! We have to be responsive:
- to their moods (Are there lots of cryers at drop-off that require extra attention? Are they slow to warm up?)
- to their needs on any given day (Does bathroom time take longer than usual? Did they make a huge mess and need more than 10 minutes for clean-up?)
- to their attention spans (a little thing like a fire drill or thunderstorm can complete derail a preschool schedule!)
Balance is Important!
Create your class schedule, then take a step back and think about the balance of activities. Don’t ask preschoolers to move from one “sit and listen” activity to another. It’s a recipe for disaster and frustration. Give them movement breaks (maybe a song or a fingerplay) during circle time. Allow them to leave the table when they are finished eating.
- Make sure that loud activities (music and movement) are balanced with quiet activities (snack).
- Alternate periods of movement (recess and centers) with periods of relative calm (morning work or story time).
- Be sure that the students have opportunities for much child-led play (centers) mixed in with some teacher-directed lessons (circle time).
Here’s the most crucial piece of advice that I have for teachers:
Trust your instincts. Trust that you know what is best for your own students. Look at your day and figure out what’s working. Keep that! Look at the parts of your day that are frustrating. Are there activities or routines that are not working well for your children? Adjust those parts. You’re the expert on your classroom and the needs of your students.
Preschool Schedule at Play to Learn:
We are a half-day program. All of the students are supposed to arrive and dismiss at the same time each day. Our students are grouped by age (3’s and 4’s). It is important to us that they have a long period of time to engage in sustained play. That’s why our center time is almost 2 hours long. We take a snack break but otherwise, it is uninterrupted.
Click HERE for the full-size printable PDF.