Recommended Daily Schedule for Preschool Classrooms

Please note: This recommended schedule may be modified as needed in response to the needs of the children in the classroom. When programs set standards, there is the temptation to follow “the letter of the law” and fail to consider the spirit of the law. It is important to understand the spirit of the law as you consider the details of this recommended schedule. The spirit of these recommendations is the understanding that If our practices are not informed by and responsive to the needs of the children (and thus FLEXIBLE) they can’t be developmentally appropriate. We are committed to producing a child-centered, developmentally appropriate experience for young children that prepares them for education and for life.

7:45-8:15 Arrivals

Morning Snack / Table Toys - The morning routine MUST include opportunities for each child and family to be greeted warmly as they enter the class. The environment should be prepared so that children can engage with materials as they begin their day. Opportunities for book sharing with the teacher can provide a secure connection for a child who might feel anxiety at drop off time. Families should be invited to enter the class and help their child transition smoothly.

8:20-8:45 Transition to Morning Meeting and Morning Meeting

Transition to morning meeting should be planned and children should be informed prior to the beginning of a new activity. A teacher might walk around the room and inform children of the upcoming change in activity, saying, “In five minutes we are going to come together for our Morning Meeting.”
Morning Meeting- This is a community building event. This is a time to recognize the individual children, help them transition into the day, and notice who may not be present. This can be done by singing a welcome song and talking about who is present. A visual display can be used to accentuate this conversation.
Involve children in recalling the events and discoveries of the prior day.
Preview the “Question of the Day”.
Transition to interest areas - Discuss new items that are available to the children in interest areas. Talk about and model how to interact with the new materials as needed. Teachers can also build children’s interest in small group activities with the teacher that have been planned.
There are many ways to facilitate the actual movement to interest areas. Children can be called upon to choose the interest area that they want to work in and be dismissed. Teachers can devise a system that designates the number of children who can appropriately engage in an interest area at once.

8:45-9:45 Interest Areas

This time is devoted to children’s learning through play. Creative Curriculum daily plans refer to this as “choice time.” This should be considered the most valuable opportunity for learning within the school day. The teachers role is to observe, assist children in accomplishing their play goals, and look for opportunities for expanding children’s activities and thinking. A teacher can move near children in conflict to provide help with conflict resolution as needed. Choice time should conclude with reminders of the upcoming large group meeting, referring to the classroom schedule as needed. Cleanup should be negotiated based upon children’s needs and interests. There may be some interest areas where children may want to leave items set up for extended play later in the day. The primary purpose of cleanup time is not simply to get the room clean – it is a time to promote the idea that each child is a responsible member of the classroom community.

9:30 Large Group

This time is an opportunity to extend the current investigation/project underway. Creative Curriculum provides detailed plans for this experience.
Begin with Transition Activity to ENGAGE children (Mighty Minutes)
Large group activities can include shared writing about the question of the day or other dimensions of the current investigation/project.
Big books may also be shared during this large group. See Creative Curriculum for examples.
Calendar – I highly recommend eliminating calendar (as a teacher led activity) completely – there is no need for it and no research to support it. Maybe you could take 60 seconds to look at the calendar and talk about what day it is during the first morning meeting.
Transition to outdoor play

10:00 Outdoor Play

Children’s self-directed activities outdoors are extremely valuable. Creative Curriculum investigations may be planned for the time outdoors. Look for teachable moments where children’s interests can provide opportunities for new and extended learning. Outdoor is prime time for observation and gathering anecdotes and/or photographs for assessment purposes.
Transitions back indoors should be planned to avoid waiting. 10- and 5- minute reminders should precede the transition indoors. Teachers should visit groups of children to provide these reminders rather than sound alarms or shout. Teachers can ask for children’s help in providing the reminders to the transition.
Handwashing can be done in small groups as children transition indoors.

11:00 Interest Areas / Small Groups

As the group engages again in play, teachers can invite children to participate in small group opportunities. These should be engaging enough that the children will WANT to come and participate - not forced or required. The focus for the day must be the children's well-being and engagement - not the teacher's need to "collect data" which should be happening constantly.
Reminders of the next event on the schedule should be provided prior to the change. Transition activities, songs, should be used to set a positive routine. The cleanup before lunch should be discussed with the children so that they understand that cleanup and organization is essential to the upcoming lunch and nap times. Some children may be responsible for helping the teacher set the tables for lunch. A gradual handwashing routine is also recommended as a part of this transition.

11:30 Lunch

Lunch time is another great opportunity for building relationships and community. When the table is set, the teacher should join the children at the table to provide assistance and participate in conversations. Teachers should be prepared with materials to help children clean up after themselves with teacher support. The goal is to promote the children’s autonomy and confidence. Lunchtime conversations are wonderful opportunities to assess social, emotional, and language development. Lunch is also a time where the teacher models a positive relationship with food – trying each food item, avoiding conversations about disliked foods that may influence children’s preferences and eating habits. Lunch should be relaxed and rewarding for all.
Transition to nap

12:00-2:00 Nap

2:00-2:30 Snack

Snack should be available to small groups at a designated table. Manning the snack area could be a classroom job for one or two children. Snack could take place as children wake up for nap and prepare again to engage with the environment through play.

2:30-3:30 Interest Areas

Please note that small groups, book sharing and discussion, and other intentional teaching opportunities can occur during this time.

3:30-4:30 Outdoor Play

Please note that small groups, book sharing and discussion, and other intentional teaching opportunities can occur during this time.

4:30-4:45 Large Group Recap

This is an opportunity to review the events of the day, allow children to share their experiences, discuss any problems or concerns of the teacher or the children, and create anticipation for the next day. Visual supports, such as charts, etc. can assist and provide materials for making notes that may guide inquiry/discovery for the next day. End the day on a positive note.

4:45-6:00 Departure

Children transition to home while engaged in a limited number of items to place back on shelves before they leave. It is important that children be engaged so that the teacher can communicate with families. It is also an opportunity to jot down notes, reminders, anecdotes for assessment and to prepare for the next day.