Creating a class schedule can be one of the most important plans you create for your preschool classroom. Setting up your school day to run smoothly takes some thought and consideration. Because the truth is… your daily schedule can make or break the classroom behaviors you see.
Just think about it, if you schedule and execute a 30 minute circle time at the beginning of the year… then you will, most likely, have little rolly polly children on your carpet. Or, if you don’t schedule snack time in between arrival time and lunch you are going to be having some ‘hangry’ students because snack or lunch is too far away! How about movement activities… If your outdoor time isn’t until the end of the day and you have no movement activities built in, then you may find wiggles to be bursting at the seams!
Children need predictable routines and creating a daily routine can help work against negative preschool behaviors. But, it takes being intentional and consistent.
Through the years I have found a process that I go through that makes planning out my schedule a bit easier. Creating my schedule is one of those hugely important things that craft at the beginning of the year.
Want to get some help creating your own preschool class schedule?
I’ve broken the process into 5 steps to help you create an intentional schedule too!
5 Steps to Creating a Daily Classroom Schedule
STEP 1: First thing: Ask yourself the Key Questions
- How many hours are you with your students?
- What age are your students?
- Is your class full time or part time?
- Which events/activities during your day are mandatory? (ex: Lunch times, recess times, special class times). How much time do you need for these mandatory activities?
- Do you need to schedule transition times? Make sure you have enough time to move to outdoor play, bathroom breaks and any other activities you leave the classroom for.
STEP 2: Decide Is It Important?
- List out the events/activities that you want in your day. (ex: share time, large group, free play, story time, small group, quite reading…)
- Now, number the events based on their importance to you. Number one being the most important.
STEP 3: Got Wiggles?
- Let’s go back to the age you teach. The average attention span is 2-5 minutes per year of life. Calculate for the age of your students.
- When scheduling try to shoot for the mid-range of these time spans.
- Be understanding to the fact that at the beginning of the year, you might need to keep small groups and whole group times shorter.
STEP 4: Plan It Out
- Now, make a list of time slots. Start by putting your preschool day start time at the top.
- List times in 5 minutes increments down the page.
- Fill in the non-negotiables from Step 1.
- Now, fill in the activities/events in order of importance in Step 2.
- Check that you are not scheduling time slots that are larger than your class’ attention span (from step 3).
- Once your schedule is filled in, leave it alone for a couple of days. Come back to your schedule with fresh eyes and look for any holes, mistakes or missing activities.
STEP 5: Make it Pretty (totally optional)
What is it about a cute font and adorable clipart? It just makes me feel so much happier to look at when on the wall. If you feel the same way, you can make your schedule pretty too. At the end of the workbook (see below) you will find editable templates (for 2 day, 3 day and 5 day a week) that are pretty darn cute. Just make sure to only try and edit in Adobe Reader.
Using your Classroom Schedule
Once you’ve created what looks to be your dream schedule… it’s time to use it!
- Start using your schedule at the beginning of the school year – the first day. This is the best way to start teaching your class the schedule. It is also allowing you to see if the amount of time you allotted for activities works or not. Take a week or 2 to use the schedule and decide if it flows for you and your students. Just know, even after making schedules for years and years – I usually always make some small tweeks. Edits might be in your future!
- Display your schedule for any parents, other teachers, administration that might enter your room. But, most importantly, make sure to display your schedule for any time you may need a substitute take over your class.
- I usually give the parents in my classroom a class schedule at the beginning of the year. I try not to give them too much information – but I’ve found that by providing the schedule it also works to calm parents nerves since they now know what their child will be doing while they are away.
- Use a visual schedule that represents your written schedule. Since our age of kiddos can’t read, visual cues are a MUST. I like to use a long, skinny pocket chart to display the visual student schedule. It may not be as detailed as mine, but gives children the idea of what the next activity will be. See more about visual schedules at this blog post. Visual schedules are an important tool to have in your classroom management arsenal. If you haven’t tried to implement these visual supports – DO IT!
- Add teaching about the schedule to your lesson plans for the first week. That way you will not forget to take a short amount of time to review the schedule (using the visual schedule cards) with your new little learners
Create the Perfect Preschool Schedule Workbook
To assist you in creating your own classroom schedule, I’ve created a workbook to help you through it! If you are anything like me, you’ve got to map everything out on paper to make it all work out – so that is what this workbook is for!
Alongside the Schedule Workbook, you also get Visual Schedule Cards for free! Use these cards to help children learn the schedule and stop answering “What are we doing now, teacher?”.
Ready to download the Perfect Preschool Schedule Workbook + Visual Schedule Cards?
Click on the link below: