Getting Started: Schedules
Keeping expectations and a schedule consistent during each session will help the children ease into the preschool experience. Here's a sample two-hour schedule:
- During the first 15 minutes, offer puzzles and books for the children to play with until everyone arrives.
- Schedule in 20 minutes of circle time. We bought inexpensive carpet samples so that each child had her own square to sit on. During circle time, sing songs such as the ABCs, discuss the date and weather, and recap the preschool rules: no hitting, waiting turns, etc.
- Plan for 10 minutes of reading books to the children.
- Follow up with 25 minutes of free play or play-based learning time. Think of a theme for the play, such as Play-Doh one week, watercolors the next, and so on.
- Don't forget a 10-minute bathroom break and washing hands before snack time. This can sometimes take up to 20 minutes, depending on the children's age group. Have coloring pages and crayons available to distract those who are quicker than their classmates.
- Offer a 10-minute snack time. Keep it simple and make sure you know if any children have allergies.
- Spend 20 minutes on instruction in letters or concepts, and an activity to support that learning. For example, if you're learning about weather, let the children play with cotton balls (makeshift clouds) and water (rain).
- Allow 10 minutes for cleaning up and getting ready to leave.
Use this format as a guide to help you decide how you'd like to arrange your own preschool. You might decide to pick themes for each month, such as farm animals, space, or gardens. Or think about other ways to get your children excited about learning. For instance, in one preschool we had a letter of the week. Each child had a letter bag and would put an object which began with that letter in the bag to present during circle time.