Here is a copy of my daily schedule. Please note that we are flexible with our times. Mealtimes are the only times that we need to be prompt.
Our doors open at 6 a.m., and full-day children can arrive anytime. We ask that all full-time children who need breakfast arrive by 8:00. Actual ‘preschool time’ is from 8:45- 11:15. Some of our children come for this time only. Even though that is ‘preschool time’, we know that learning happens all day.
6 – 7:30: Quiet play in our ‘gathering room’.
7:30 – 8:00 – Free play in our classroom
8:00 – 8:40 – Clean-up, bathroom visit, and breakfast
8:45 – Songs, Calendar, Story and Daily Discussion (We talk about our main topic and then hear what Center Choices will be.)
9/9:15-ish – 10:10 – Center Time (Blocks, Housekeeping, Books, Science, Writing Table, Painting, Sensory Table and three rotating Centers)
10:10-10:30 Clean-up and Jesus Time
10:30 – 11:00 Outside Time
11-11:25 Stories, bathroom visit (morning-only children get picked up at 11:15)
11:30-12:00 – Lunch
12:00-12:30 – Bathroom visit and get ready for nap. (Children watch a video while cots are set out.)
12:30 – 2:00 Nap
2:00 – 3:30 – Wake up, Free Play, Snack
3:30 – 4:30 – Outside Time
4:30 – 6:00 – Free Play
A simple stick-figure calendar is posted in our room so the children can see what is coming next. At home visits, I bring a copy to the child to go over and keep. (There is a short version for Preschool Only children and the longer version for All Day children.)
What works well in our room is that we try to limit transitions. Our center time is a good long hour where children can become deeply engaged in their work, and don’t have to start and stop so often.
Again, I can’t stress enough the idea that you DON’T need a ton of stuff! My analogy is: When you go shopping, do you prefer digging through racks of mis-matched items in the wrong spot, with the racks jammed so close together you can’t move around or find anything – or do you love looking at things nicely displayed, that invite you to look around and choose what you like? (Ok, if you’re a bargain hunter, this might not be the best analogy, but you see what I’m saying, right?)
I think it’s the imagination and conversation that should be the focus of housekeeping, not having every kind of toy imaginable. Keep it simple, and as always – label where things should go.
In housekeeping, start with:
- A decent kitchen set.
- A table and chairs
- 4 – 5 dress-up clothes, and a few accessories (hats, a purse) DON’T go overboard here!
- place settings for 4 – cups, bowls, plates
Really, you could just stop there and they would be happy as clams. There are nice things to add in as the year goes by, but don’t forget to edit what is in there – when you bring in something new, take something out. Some ideas:
- A couple of old phones
- A basket of pretend food
- baking/cooking items (This photo was taken when we were studying baking.)
- computer keyboards for typing
- change out your dress-up clothes
- a small Christmas tree and a basket of plastic ornaments to decorate and re-decorate the tree
- A lamp (yes, a real lamp that you have talked about using safely and have taped down underneath) can add more magic than you ever imagined!
You may be wondering about the green on the walls. Two words: Liquid starch! If you’ve never tried this, you have to. Soak a piece of fabric in liquid starch and squeeze out the excess. Smooth it onto the wall and it dries – looking like wallpaper – but it comes off like a dream! I nailed a piece of chair railing along the top so the children wouldn’t pick at it, and it makes the space very cozy.
There are many wonderful books out there that talk about room arrangement. (I’ll list them later.) Right now I would recommend Creative Curriculum as a great start – they have some drawings of proper room arrangement.
You will need to think about having a Block Area, a Book Area, a Gathering Area, Housekeeping, Art Area, Science Area, Manipulatives, a Writing Center and some spaces that can do double-duty.
Be sure you have room for everything, and if you have to make some areas to double-duty, that’s ok. Be creative!
One exercise that we did several years ago was to imagine what your Dream Classroom would be like. Draw it! You may not be able to do everything, but maybe you can begin on one thing now. It’ll get your creative juices flowing!
I am not a fan of the pre-made cute posters they sell in the teacher store. If you are just beginning and need them, ok. But look at them first. Is it something to help you manage the room? Map posters are alright, birthday posters are ok, but if it’s just for decoration – hold off. It will not be a bad thing if your walls are a little bare. We live in such a chaotic world anyway – don’t overwhelm these children with all that STUFF on the walls. It’s just visual static.
Leave the spaces empty and put up their drawings the first week or two! Be sure to mount it nicely on a piece of construction paper, first. Make it look like a piece of fine art If you haven’t read The Dot by Peter Reynolds, do. It changed the way I look at children’s art. It should be REAL, and a dot is more real than a coloring page of a bear.
Well, friends, there is no magic answer to that. In fact, I want to prep you with the notion that this year is not going to go as smoothly as you would hope. Before I taught preschool, I taught second grade for two years. I had NO experience with the preschool crowd. My plan for the first few days was to spend ALOT of time outside and just let them run until I got my bearings.
It rained solid for the first week.
I really don’t remember very much of my first few years. I remember asking many questions of my director and using a lot of resource materials. I am not a fan of Theme Teaching, but if you are just starting out – embrace the themes! They will give you some structure until you can branch out and find your own way.
I’d like to cover several things in this category. Bear with me while I sort them out.