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The Importance of a Purposeful Daily Schedule

Children thrive on routine. Children feel more confident and secure when their daily activities are predictable and familiar. When infants and toddlers are part of familiar activities and routines, they develop relationships with the people they interact with and gain a sense of belonging and self-confidence.

As older toddlers and young children grow, they can follow routines, demonstrate emerging independence, and adjust to change more easily.

A purposeful child care daily schedule provides ample time for the most important age-appropriate experiences for children.

Schedules and routines in the group care setting, and at home, help children:

  • Feel in control of their environment.

  • Feel safe, secure, and comfortable.

  • Know what is happening now and what comes next.

  • Know how to do an activity or task.

  • Engage in learning.

What is the difference between a schedule and a routine?

A schedule represents the big picture and includes main activities that happen across the day. It labels each part of the day and sets a beginning and end time for each part.

Routines are the steps needed to complete each part of the schedule. A routine is what happens during each part of the day.

A consistent daily schedule and step-by-step routines:

Provide structure

Schedules provide a structure for the children's day so that they know what to expect. A basic schedule that allows for some flexibility helps children to monitor their behavior and develop a sense of time and what comes next.

Give children predictability

Children who have not yet learned to tell time will measure their days according to activities and events. A predictable schedule gives children a sense of control and safety.

Facilitate productive transitions

Transitions from one activity to another are really the most difficult times of the day for children. With predictable schedules and cues that one activity is about to end and another to begin, transitions are smoother and cause less anxiety. It, also, allows for transitions that can be fun learning experiences.

Prevent challenging behavior

Many challenging behaviors come from anxiety and frustration. When children feel anxious or unsafe, they often act out with aggression or tears. When children know what to expect, they are more likely to exhibit self-control and positive behaviors.

Build trust

When children see that the caregiver provides a schedule that is the same everyday, they learn to build trust in the caregiver. Consistency builds trust and trust is the foundation of strong relationships.

Parts of the Preschool Day

The daily schedule should contain a number of experiences that develop a well-rounded education for children. The daily schedule is critical to proving a happy classroom. The following are some parts of the day to consider when developing a daily schedule. The ages of the group and individual children should also be considered when developing a daily schedule.

  • Arrival

  • Morning Meeting

  • Learning center time

  • Group time

  • Outside time

  • Snack time am and pm

  • Lunch

  • Nap

  • Departure time


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