Our Favorite Preschool Classroom Schedule
Our 3 year old class is held from 9:30 – 12:30 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
It’s taken me awhile to tweak our schedule so that we can have an hour of free choice, but also enough time for large motor, circle time, snack, music & movement, and small groups.
This schedule has really worked well for us. I believe firmly in balancing out active and quiet times and to be very mindful that they are not required to sit for lengthy amounts of time.
Before I even begin, I cannot stress enough how important a picture schedule is, especially during the first weeks as the children get adjusted to the routine. You can print your own picture cards here.
We open the classroom door and greet the children. They say their good-byes to parents and come on in!
We have a clipboard with all their names and a blank space beside them. The children find their name and draw a line from left to right. As they are ready, they can write some or all of the letters in their names.
Once all the children have arrived, we gather on the carpet to say good morning to each other.
We announce who is the class helper for the day and who has the sharing box. We then introduce what we will be doing that morning, sometimes passing items to view. We keep it very short and simple, but it sets the tone for our day.
When the preschoolers arrive, we have the classroom set up for free-choice centers time.
The photo above gives you an idea of how our centers are ready to go. We set the scene before they arrive, putting great thought into what will be available that day.
You can read more about it here: Setting Up Your Preschool Learning Centers.
I prefer free-choice for this age group because they are all at different levels, and some want to spend a lot of time exploring one thing while others move from area to area, often wanting to return to a previous activity.
We open the door for outdoor play during part of our centers time as well. We consider it an extension of our classroom, with more play and learning activities available.
Our class helper rings a bell to announce that it’s clean up time.
Work is placed in their cubbies and toys and materials are placed on labeled shelves.
At the beginning of the year, we break the children into smaller groups so that each of the three teachers can model how everything is put away. For this reason, we start with less on our shelves and slowly add more as we feel they are ready.
We are lucky to reside in a church that has a large fellowship hall. We get to use it everyday unless another event is using it. We spend a good 30 minutes in the gym moving our entire body. We enjoy this time with a basketball hoop, parachute, scooters, tunnel, plasma cars, and much more.
We place the children’s personalized wooden stools around our carpet.
The children get a book from our bookshelf and take it to their stool, looking at it while the teachers gather circle time materials.
We’ve found that having the children look at a book is a nice way to transition into a more calm environment, preparing them for listening time.
Here are some of my posts about circle times:
That day’s class helper looks out the window to determine if it’s sunny, cloudy, or rainy. (Those are basically the 3 types of climate we have in our area.)
The weather person then chooses one of the weather bottles that I made and takes it to the teacher who is leading group time.
A picture is then placed on the weather chart and we sing a weather song.
You can read more about our class helper here: How to Have a Class Helper in Preschool.
On Mondays one of the children is selected to take home our sharing box and bring it back on Wednesday.
Birthdays are celebrated during circle time as well.
The birthday child gets to wear his/her crown (that is made at the start of the year and placed on a special birthday bulletin board) and we sing the traditional Happy Birthday song while the birthday child sits in a special chair.
You can read more about birthdays here: Celebrating Birthdays in the Preschool Classroom.
As the children are dismissed from circle, they go to the sink to wash hands.
We have taped Xs on the floor so they know to stand on the X while waiting their turn at the sink. They then find their spot at one of the three snack tables.
Our families take turns contributing food for our snacks and one of the teachers prepares it earlier in the morning.
We sit family style and focus on good table manners and independence.
When the children are finished with snack, they take clear their spots at the table, wash hands, and move to the activities that are placed on the group rug, or they can go to the book corner or writing table.
Music and movement:
Once snack is finished, one of the teachers will lead music and movement at our circle time area while the other teacher cleans the snack tables, getting them ready for small groups.
We divide the class of 16 children into 4 groups for small groups. It’s a short 10 minutes, but allows time for the teachers to have more one-on-one with the children. We use this time for journals, games, and teaching new skills, such as cutting with scissors.
Children are dismissed as they are finishing small groups. They gather their cubby papers and are greeted by their parents or caregivers at our classroom door. We offer extended care for those who are interested, so those children stay until the extended care teacher comes and gets them