Creating a great preschool schedule for children can mean the difference between months filled with chaos and a week that you want to repeat time and time again.
I’m going to share with you 5 must-haves for making a great preschool schedule.
There is so much information about making a preschool schedule that I want to share, so I’ve made a series! You can see my own preschedule schedule taken directly from my handbook.
5 Must-Haves for Making a Great Preschool Schedule
Predictability – Predictability is what children crave. They want to know what’s next, and a schedule with predictability will give children security. When children know what to expect, it makes all the difference. Meal times, rest time, arrivals, and goodbyes are all part of predictability.
Consistency – An adult’s consistency is key. We don’t have to give the children the same schedule every day, but we should be planning patterns or rhythms. School isn’t 24/7, and each day can be unique. If you want to do art and math one day and science and social studies another day, then go for it!
Consistency means having a constant teacher/caregiver who children can form a bond with. Consistency means using a room(s) or area(s) that the children are familiar with and comfortable in. It also means having school some days and taking some days off.
Flexibility – When making a schedule, you should be both consistent and flexible.
You need to plan for flexibility.
Allow extra time in case the children want to continue working on an activity. Plan to have a backup if circle time has gone completely wrong. Plan to make adjustments as life happens. Children will have accidents, spills, get sick, fall and get hurt, or just want extra time to sit in your lap.
Plan flexibility into your day, or else you will feel completely overwhelmed!
Individual Needs – Your schedule has to completely center around your students and their needs. It has to accommodate the active child who needs lots of stimulation, and it needs to consider the laid back child who does not do well when rushed.
It is also important to consider your children’s natural interests.
One year I had students who loved blocks and the next year I had students who wanted to write constantly. My schedule was adapted to each group by allowing more time for those opportunities.
A great schedule is child-centered and planned thoughtfully with the group of children you are currently working with.
Observation – Your amazing schedule will come through time, experimentation, and observation. Note what’s working and what’s not.
Are there triggers that make it feel like there are 42 children instead of 12? Do the children look at you like you are an alien when you say it’s time to stop playing and move on to the next activity?
Do they have a hard time listening during circle time because they are hopping around instead of sitting? Do you have activities that last only 22 seconds before everyone is ready for the next thing?
The children will be your gauge as to what is working and not. Sometimes it takes a few days of trying something new to get used to it, but time will tell. It took me years to figure out the essentials to a great schedule, and each class I had needed a unique day.
When you have all of these five must-haves, you’re on the right path for making a great schedule for preschoolers! Want to hear more?
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Children thrive with visual schedules! This is the visual schedule I use.
See how Play to Learn Preschool uses the same visual schedule in her classroom:
See my own schedule in action.