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2.3: Temporal Environment - The Daily Schedule

  • Page ID
    205717
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    COURSE COMPETENCY 2. Incorporate STEM into Daily Routines

    Criteria 2.3 Incorporate STEM opportunities into daily schedule.

    The Daily Schedule

    One feature of a well-organized classroom is the use of a schedule and established routines. Schedules and established routines are important because they influence a child’s social and emotional development. While referred to as the daily schedule, it is important to recognize that the flow, or the predictable order of the day, should be the focus (rather than abiding by rigid timelines for the different parts of the day). While there may be parts of the day that at are at fixed times (for example meals or using a shared outdoor space), teachers should use flexibility to make the schedule meet the needs of the children. If an activity seems to be coming to a natural conclusion earlier, consider transitioning to the next part of the day. If children are really engaged in an activity, consider giving them additional time to wrap up their exploration. Flexibility also comes in handy when there are changes that affect the schedule that are beyond your control, such as bad weather preventing outdoor play.[1]

    Why Have a Daily Schedule?

    Schedules are important because they

    • Help children know what to expect:
      • Schedules and routines help children understand the expectations of the classroom environment—which may be very different than in other settings.
      • Knowing expectations may lower behavior problems.
    • Enhance feelings of security:
      • Predictable and consistent schedules in preschool classrooms help children feel secure and comfortable.
      • Those children who have difficulty with change especially need to feel secure.
      • Children who do not yet speak and understand English well also benefit from predictable and consistent classroom schedules and routines.
    • Influence a child’s cognitive and social development:
      • When periods of play are longer, children engage in more complex social and cognitive play.
    • Increase child engagement rates:
      • Child engagement is defined as the amount of time a child spends interacting with his or her environment (adults, peers, or materials) in a developmentally and contextually appropriate manner, at different levels of competence.
      • Schedules that give children choices, balanced activities, planned activities, and individual activities result in a higher level of engagement.

    Several factors influence child engagement.

    • Attention span of children:
      • Plan activities to maximize children’s engagement:
        • Use other adults to assist.
        • Use novel materials.
      • Limit duration to ensure children stay engaged throughout the activity.
    • Alertness level:
      • Plan activities that require more child attention and listening skills during times when children are more alert.
      • Plan calming activities after active activities.
      • Note if some children may be tired or sick.
    • Adult availability:
      • For a more active part of your day, you may want to have more adults to support the children’s learning and the management of the classroom.
    • Time for children’s needs—allow enough time for children to fully engage and benefit from an activity. When children engage in longer periods of play they:
      • Show higher levels of exploration, experimentation, and persistence.
      • Utilize materials in more creative ways.
      • Develop social relationships.[2]

    Creating the Daily Schedule

    The first component is “blocks of time,” the big chunks of time set aside for classroom activities. Preschool schedules typically include:

    • Large group or circle time
    • Child-initiated play time
    • Snack time and meals
    • Outdoor time
    • Rest time

    The next component is the sequence. Sequencing the blocks of time requires taking into consideration multiple factors including:

    • Method of arrival/departure (bus or transportation provided by families)
    • Schedules of other classrooms (e.g., which classroom goes outdoors at what times?)

    Schedules include some of the daily routines such as meal times, but may not include others such as bathroom breaks or clean up routines.

    clipboard_e80ed1fac119a25cc8de078d8622afeb2.png

    Figure 2.1: This is a visual schedule that shows children images of the different parts of their day.[3]

    clipboard_e0fb28b2c291144685bb9a1fb0d2ace86.png

    Figure 2.2: Here is a schedule that combines visual cues, written times, and text descriptions.[4]

    Finding Balance in the Schedule

    When planning the schedule you want to provide balance. This includes:

    • Alternating active with quiet activities to help children with self-control.
    • Having a mix of small group and large group activities.
    • Having activities that differ in noise level, pace, person leading (child vs. adult), and location (indoor vs. outdoor).
    • Having a mix of teacher-guided and child-initiated activities.[5]

    Child-Initiated Play and Teacher-Guided Activities

    The daily schedule balances child-initiated play and teacher-guided activities. The latter involves teachers planning, introducing, and guiding specific activities to enhance children’s learning during small- and large-group times. In contrast, child-initiated play refers to children’s responses to ideas and materials introduced by teachers that the children are free to explore without teacher guidance. Child-initiated play also includes those times when children create, organize, and engage in activities completely on their own.

    A daily schedule that ensures ample time for children to initiate their own play in well-developed interest areas is critical to the teaching and learning. Young children need ample time to engage in play, in the company of peers, in order to build their ideas, to pose problems, to try out solutions, and to negotiate and exchange ideas. When children initiate, organize, and develop their own play in the interest areas, it is called child-initiated learning. At times, children choose to play alone, but frequently, child-initiated play takes place in small groups of their own choosing.

    In a schedule with ample time for children to initiate play in well-stocked interest areas, there are times when teachers organize and guide specific activities for children. Such teacher-guided curriculum activities are clearly distinct from child-initiated curriculum activities. Teacher-guided activities occur in two contexts—small groups and large groups. A small group would consist of one teacher working with a group of four to eight children. A large group is typically a gathering of all the children in an early childhood setting. Each context serves a different purpose and requires different preparation and different teaching strategies.

    For some aspects of the curriculum, teachers may choose to organize an activity with a small group of children. Although initiated and guided by the teacher, an effective small-group encounter of this nature should still be rich in possibilities for children to contribute and negotiate ideas with each other. Teacher-guided activities in small groups work best in quiet spaces away from distractions of the full group and provide a manageable context for children to discuss and explore ideas and experiences. The teacher listens to children’s ideas, helps orchestrate the give-and-take of ideas among children, and poses ideas or problems for children to wonder about, explore together, or even solve. Away from the distractions of a large group, teachers can easily observe, listen, and converse with children in a small group, as well as note how individual children think, express ideas, relate with others, and use their emerging skills.

    Such teacher-guided conversations can enrich children’s learning in all domains, particularly the children’s language and vocabulary development. In addition, teachers can intentionally guide the development of specific skills by planning small-group activities (e.g., songs, games, shared reading) for short periods of time that playfully engage children in using specific emerging skills.

    Small-group activities have several advantages over large-group activities. With small groups of children, teachers can readily observe, listen, and document children’s developmental progress. Teachers can also individualize the curriculum and use questions or prompts to scaffold each child’s thinking in more complex ways.

    Whether the activities are child-initiated or teacher-guided, children’s use of materials in interest areas provide teachers with excellent opportunities to observe how they build concepts and skills and how they negotiate ideas with others. Moments of observed play and interactions also provide teachers with ideas on how to extend children’s exploration and learning through future encounters with related materials that add novelty, challenge, and complexity in each domain.

    Large groups provide another context for teacher-guided activities. The large group—typically a gathering of the entire class—works well for singing, acting out songs and stories, playing games, sharing experiences with each other, telling stories, building a sense of community, and organizing the daily schedule and activities. Storytelling is one of the more popular large-group experiences, one that has rich potential for adding to children’s understanding about the world around them. Storytelling allows teachers, children, family members, as well as storytellers from the community to tap into and build children’s knowledge and experiences in meaningful ways. Large-group time is also when teachers let the whole group of children know what new experiences will be available in the interest areas or what will happen in small groups that day. Large-group gatherings that occur at the end of the day provide opportunities to review noteworthy happenings and to anticipate what will be available the next day.[6]

    Here are some examples of daily schedules for preschool classrooms.

    Table 2.1: Half-Day Program Sample

    Time of Day

    Routine/Activity

    Description

    8:00

    Arrival/Greetings

    Wash Hands, Sign-in, Get Name tags

    8:05-8:20

    Group Time

    Welcome, Songs, Stories, Discussions

    8:20-9:30

    Open Choice Time Outdoors

    Explore classroom areas

    9:30

    Clean-up

    Wash Hands, transition to indoors

    9:35-10:45

    Snack/Open Choice Indoors

     

    10:45

    Clean-up

     

    10:50-11

    Closing Circle

     
    Table 2.2: Full Day Program Sample Daily Schedule[7]

    Time of Day

    Routine/Activity

    Description

    8:00

    Arrival/Greetings

    Wash Hands, Sign-in, Get Name tags

    8:05-8:20

    Group Time

    Welcome, Songs, Stories, Discussions

    8:20-9:30

    Open Choice Time Outdoors

    Explore classroom areas

    9:30

    Clean-up

    Wash Hands, transition to indoors

    9:35-11:00

    Snack/Open Choice Indoors

     

    11:00

    Clean-up

     

    11:10-11:25

    Story Time

    Transition to wash hands for lunch

    11:30-11:50

    Lunch

     

    11:50

    Explore books on rest Mats

     

    12:10-2:00

    Rest Time

     

    2:00-3:15

    Indoor Choice Time/Snack

     

    3:15

    Clean-up

     

    3:20

    Large Group Circle

    Games, Songs, Stories

    3:40

    Explore Outdoors

     

    5:00

    Clean-up

     

    5:05

    Indoor Small Group/Choice Centers

    Fewer areas open

    Incorporating STEM into the Daily Schedule

    So far in this chapter, you have reviewed the importance of a daily schedule and factors to consider when creating your daily schedule. Below you will explore how to incorporate STEM into your daily schedule.

    Incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) into the daily schedule in preschool can be done in various creative and engaging ways. Here are some ideas:

    1. **Morning Circle Time:**
    - **STEM Question of the Day:** Start the day with a STEM-related question or problem for children to discuss. For example, "How can we make a paper airplane fly farther?" This encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
    - **Science Demonstrations:** Conduct simple science demonstrations or experiments during circle time, such as mixing colors, exploring magnets, or observing plant growth. Discuss the scientific concepts behind these activities.

    2. **Learning Centers:**
    - **STEM Learning Stations:** Set up dedicated STEM learning stations within learning centers. For example, a building block station for engineering, a sensory table for exploring materials, a math manipulative area, and a technology station with age-appropriate educational apps or activities.
    - **Problem-Solving Challenges:** Introduce STEM-themed problem-solving challenges at learning centers. For instance, challenge children to build a bridge using blocks or create a structure that can withstand a "wind" (fan) test.

    3. **Outdoor Play:**
    - **Nature Exploration:** Encourage children to explore nature during outdoor play. Provide magnifying glasses, binoculars, and observation tools for them to investigate insects, plants, and outdoor elements. Discuss scientific observations and encourage curiosity.
    - **Engineering Play:** Incorporate outdoor engineering activities such as building with natural materials (sticks, rocks) or creating pathways for water flow using simple materials like tubes or gutter sections.

    4. **Art and Creativity:**
    - **STEAM Art Projects:** Combine STEM with art (STEAM) by integrating science or math concepts into creative projects. For example, create geometric shape collages, explore color mixing through painting, or design structures using recycled materials.
    - **Coding with Art:** Introduce basic coding concepts through art activities. Use coding apps that allow children to create art by programming sequences of colors or shapes.

    5. **Literacy Integration:**
    - **STEM Storybooks:** Use storybooks that introduce STEM concepts as part of literacy activities. After reading, engage children in discussions or activities related to the story's STEM themes.
    - **Writing about Science:** Encourage children to write or draw about their scientific observations, experiments, or engineering designs in journals or on interactive whiteboards.

    6. **Mealtime Activities:**
    - **Food Science:** Incorporate food-related STEM activities during snack or mealtime. For example, discuss the science of cooking, explore how ingredients change form (solid to liquid), or conduct simple food experiments (e.g., sinking vs. floating).
    - **Nutrition Education:** Teach children about healthy eating habits, the importance of balanced diets, and how food provides energy for our bodies. Use visuals and hands-on activities to reinforce these concepts.

    7. **Music and Movement:**
    - **STEM Songs:** Sing songs related to STEM themes, such as counting songs, songs about shapes or colors, or songs that introduce scientific concepts (e.g., weather songs, animal habitats).
    - **Rhythmic Math:** Incorporate math concepts into movement activities, such as counting steps, creating patterns with movements, or exploring concepts like fast/slow or high/low through music and movement.

    8. **Technology Integration:**
    - **Educational Apps and Tools:** Use age-appropriate educational apps, interactive whiteboards, or coding tools to introduce technology skills and concepts like sequencing, problem-solving, and logical thinking.
    - **Digital Storytelling:** Create digital stories or presentations about STEM topics that children can contribute to, fostering creativity and digital literacy skills.

    By integrating STEM into the daily schedule, preschool teachers can provide rich, hands-on learning experiences that promote curiosity, critical thinking, and a strong foundation in STEM disciplines from an early age.

    How to incorporate STEM into the daily schedule was generated using OpenAI. (2024). ChatGPT (3.5) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com

    References

    [1] Guide to Managing the Classrooms: Schedules and Routines by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in the public domain;

    Content by Jennifer Paris is licensed under CC BY 4.0

    [2] Guide to Managing the Classrooms: Schedules and Routines by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in the public domain

    [3] Image by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in the public domain

    [4] Image by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in the public domain

    [5] Guide to Managing the Classrooms: Schedules and Routines by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in the public domain

    [6] California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [7] Based on the College of the Canyons Early Childhood Education Sample schedule

    [8] Guide to Managing the Classrooms: Schedules and Routines by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in the public domain;

    The Integrated Nature of Learning by the California Department of Education is used with permission (pg. 29-32)

    [9] The Integrated Nature of Learning by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [10] Tips for Teachers by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in the public domain

    [11] Guide to Presenting Managing the Classroom: Classroom Transitions by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in the public domain

    [12] The Integrated Nature of Learning by the California Department of Education is used with permission


    2.3: Temporal Environment - The Daily Schedule is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Vicki Tanck (Northeast Wisconsin Technical College).