EARLY PRESCHOOL • DAILY SCHEDULE
All young children do best with predictable routines, and so we work hard to follow this schedule consistently every day. At times, due to special events (rain, etc.), we make modifications. In the Early Preschool, the times may vary, as the little ones need more time and flexibility between transitions.
Greeting and Story Time
The children begin their day by joining the large circle and sitting with the teachers for a quiet story or two. This calming activity helps them with separation. The story engages them, and their focus shifts away from Mommy (or Daddy, or Caregiver) towards an interest in school and the other children. Parents are free to stay until Story Time ends. We know that adjustment is an individualized process. The teachers customize arrangements for parents whose children need more time to settle in comfortably.
Following Story Time, the children go out to the big playground. We close off the top part of the play structure to the Cocoons and Caterpillars. They use the lower part of the structure with the small slides. The rest of the playground, with the sandbox, cars, fire engine, climbing tubes, and swings, are open for their use as well. We find that with the Early Preschoolers, moving straight into this enjoyable physical activity entertains them and it makes it easier to for them to separate from their parents. When ready, they move to the classroom, and the day proceeds with Work Time.
A Time of “Individual Choice”
After Playground Time, the children are free to work in the classroom or in the outdoor covered patio area, moving from one area to another. The teachers use this time as an opportunity to engage in floor time play and make connections with children. Children may choose any job or activity they wish, and they may work alone, with a teacher, or with other children.
- Inside Activities for the Early Preschoolers include a variety of Montessori jobs and other sensory learning materials, including peg boards, blocks, shape sorting, texture matching, color sorting and matching, sorting by size, etc. Children also have an opportunity to play in the dramatic play area, look at books in the cozy corner, or participate in art activities (gluing, coloring, etc.). Every day there is a different multi-sensory art activity spread out on the art room table for children to freely experience. Every week, the children also have the opportunity to participate in a cooking project that is simple and age-appropriate.
- Outside Activities in the Patio Area include painting at the easel, playing in the sand box, building with blocks, and exploring the sensory table. There is also a separate, fenced-in area with riding toys for large motor activity.
- Large Motor Activities are a special treat. The teachers encourage different movement activities such as rolling on the floor, riding scooter boards, jumping on a small trampoline, or playing under a parachute.
- Hand washing/Snack Break is incorporated into Work Time. Children wash their own hands and come together at the snack table. Teachers encourage children to join, but this is not mandatory for all children, as we also teach the skill of “listening to our own bodies,” and some children simply are not hungry or ready to eat. We honor the importance of meal-time rituals. Much learning happens within snack, especially learning to share and socialize with one another.
Throughout Work Time, the teachers intentionally focus on encouraging the children’s language development and assisting them in their social and emotional development. Some of the focus is on building skills that lead to greater independence. They teach all children to wash their hands, to put away their jobs, to clean up spills, and to put on their jackets. The teachers help those children who are ready to practice using the toilet. They change the diapers of those who are not yet toilet-trained.
Small Group: “Nurturing the Spirit” Circle
The children are alerted to clean-up with a quiet bell. They are helped to finish their work and put it away. At the start of the year, this time is spent in a large circle for a focused time for teaching social-emotional skills. The Early Preschoolers are just learning how to be together in a group. They are working on the social skills of sitting, listening, and sharing. Their Small Group activities are very simple and experiential. The teachers use books and puppets to focus on issues that are important to all children at this age, such as separation, missing their parent, building trust with other caregivers, and learning about their feelings and their world. As the children grow and develop, we gradually move to a Small Group model where students break into groups of four children with a teacher for this time of focused learning.
Music and Movement
This period is a favorite time of the day for most Cocoons and Caterpillars. The teachers teach a variety of songs, finger plays, and movement activities during Music Time. They love doing the finger plays and dancing to music and they quickly learn all the words to the songs.
End of Day
The Early Preschoolers are dismissed from their classroom. Parents come to the playground gate (after signing their child out in the Sign-In/Out Book), and the teachers bring their child to greet them at the gate. This keeps all children safe and secure.
PRESCHOOL and PRE-KINDERGARTEN • DAILY SCHEDULE
If your child is a Ladybug or Dragonfly, their days will be made up of the following components. Once we have determined the best schedule for each individual class, we make every effort to keep the order of the day consistent. Occasionally we do make modifications to accommodate special activities, weather, or events.
Children gather in the story room to listen to a story being read aloud while the teacher elicits responses from the children. The use of flannel boards and other interactive activities may also be used to help children build comprehension and listening skills.
Small Group and Table Time
The children gather for Small Group and Table Time with their small group teacher. These learning periods serves as a bonding time for the group. The children form trusted relationships with their small group teacher and with each other.
- “Nurturing the Spirit” Activity: This is a quiet period for teaching social-emotional skills and mindfulness. It is one of the highlights of the day. It begins with lighting a candle, taking calming deep breaths, and saying three “Om’s.” The children greet each other and share a bit about their day. The teacher then leads her group in an activity designed to teach young children communication skills, self-regulation, problem-solving, and stress relief. Each month’s activities follow a specific theme (such as Friendship or Kindness). Using relaxation exercises, puppets, symbolic play, role-play, and creative art, the children have the opportunity to express their feelings, build empathy, and develop respect for others and their world.
- Montessori Presentation: During Table Time, the teacher presents one of the Montessori jobs with careful precision and attention to her small group. The children are exposed to different Montessori materials during this time, which offers them an introduction to the variety of Montessori jobs that they may choose to work with during the daily work period.
Intentional Work Time – A Time of “Individual Choice”
During this time, the children stay in the large classrooms with the Montessori materials. They are able to be self-directed and choose freely from activities on the shelves in the prepared environment. The teachers follow their interests, demonstrating Montessori materials and working with the children individually or in small groups. The children may work in any one of these Montessori work areas:
- In the Practical Life area, children choose activities from everyday living: polishing shoes, using tools, sanding wood, wet/ dry pouring, flower arranging, silver polishing, tying laces, zippering, etc. These activities teach children be more independent, care for the environment and each other, and develop small muscle coordination.
- In the Sensorial Area, children choose from activities that use their five senses, such as color sorting, matching sounds/smells/textures/weight, grading objects by size, using peg boards, etc. These sensorial exercises also provide a foundation for speech, writing, and arithmetic.
- In the Language Area, children work in areas that enhance oral language and set the foundation for reading. All of the activities are important building blocks that prepare the child to become a successful reader, such as puzzles, metal insets, object/picture matching, lotto games, story dictation, classification, and letter & sound recognition.
- In the Math Area, Montessori activities allow children to explore the concepts of quantity and symbol. We use the child’s senses to first introduce these concepts. We introduce quantity using the number rods. We introduce number symbols (i.e. “7”) with sandpaper numbers that the child traces with his finger. We then put quantity and symbol together in a variety of exercises. We then introduce teens, tens, hundreds, and thousands.
Open Work Time – Freedom to Move to the Patio, Art, Cooking, and Dramatic Play Areas
During Open Work Time, doors are opened to the patio. The children may then work in their classroom, or they may move out to explore an activity in one of these areas:
- In the Art Area, children have an opportunity to work creatively using a variety of materials and mediums to create an expressive piece of art, including gluing, painting, markers, scissors, tape, stamps, stencils, and color crayons.
- In the Patio Area, children paint on the easel, play with the doll house, use a sand/bird seed/or water tray, and engage in other special seasonal outdoor activities.
- In the Block Area, we have materials, including unit blocks, trains, and Legos for construction.
- In the Cooking Area, children are able to participate in food preparation, and they practice spreading, cutting, stirring, pouring, and learning how to follow a recipe.
- In Dramatic Play, children have an opportunity to work cooperatively, try on and practice adult roles and gain skills in socialization, as well as learn skills in independent living.
When the bell rings, the children come to the big circle for a short interactive transition. The teachers present the calendar, and they may sing a song or do finger plays.
Hand Washing and Snack Time
Snack is an important time of social-emotional learning. We honor the importance of meal-time rituals. Children are first called to wash their hands to prepare for snack. The children eat at one of the covered patio tables with their own Small Group and their Small Group teacher. Much experiential education happens here, especially learning to share and socialize with each another. This period offers time for more extended conversations. The children also learn self-help skills, manners and respect, as well self-control.
Music and Movement
Children gather in a large circle for songs, finger plays, instrument playing, and movement activities. Music teaches rhythm and cooperation, and it is a wonderful way for children to be exposed to and practice using language.
Playground is an extremely important time in your child’s day. Children work on the development of their large muscles, building coordination and strength. This is also a time when they can practice social skills. The children may choose from a variety of activities including swinging, sliding, playing basketball, running, climbing, and playing in the sandbox.
Ladybugs end their day at 12:00pm. Children will be called individually by a teacher after their parent or caregiver has arrived and signed the child out.
- Ladybugs n’ Lunch ∙ Ladybugs in this class bring their lunch and stay at school for an additional 45 minutes where they benefit from important social skills practice with friends. The children enjoy some extra patio time after lunch if time permits.
- Dragonflies ∙ Lunch is an integral part of the curriculum for this class where children also bring their lunch and eat with their peers. It is an important time of social interaction, sharing conversation, and building friendships. Depending on the children’s energy and needs, there is patio time afterwards.
EXPANDED DAY PRESCHOOL ∙ DAILY SCHEDULE
The Dragonfly and Ladybug class schedules (above) parallel one another in the morning. All Dragonflies stay for lunch at school. After their lunch time and activity, Half-Day Dragonflies are dismissed at 12:45pm, while the Expanded-Day students return to their classroom to continue their day.
Quiet Rest Time
Following lunch, Expanded-Day Dragonfly children come inside for a 15-20 minute period of rest and relaxation after their busy morning. This is a time for them to learn how to unwind their bodies and “calm their motors.” They lie on their mats, listen to soft music, or engage in relaxation exercises. In our quiet time, we teach self-regulation, an important readiness skill.
Small Group Intentional Teaching Time
The period of intentional teaching is the highlight of the afternoon Dragonfly class. The children gather with their Small Group for learning activities geared specifically to their age group. This is the time of day their Small Group teacher works on strengthening readiness skills in preparation for Kindergarten. The teachers also challenge the children with more advanced Montessori presentations and excite them with deeper exploration into their areas of interest. The Dragonfly teachers love this time of day because it gives them an opportunity work more closely with their group and know them more intimately. Intentional Teaching Time includes more focused learning in these areas:
- Language and Literature – A key feature of the Dragonflies class is an emphasis on expanding literacy and self-expression. The teachers present many of the more advanced Montessori materials which teach pre-reading and early reading skills and phonics at this time. They use the moveable alphabet, matching games, etc. In addition, the children explore literature in more depth, with plenty of time for sharing and discussion. They do their own story-writing and create their own work.
- Science and Geography – Children love science. This extended period gives the teachers a chance to involve the children in exciting hands-on science projects and experiments. The children learn more about their world, too. Montessori has many lovely advanced materials in the science and geography area which the children may work with at this time.
- Fine Motor – One of the best ways to prepare children for kindergarten is to give them lots of practice with fine motor activities so that they are ready to write in school. This time period includes more skill-building and practice in this area using a variety of materials that teach in a sensory way.
- Math – The Dragonflies are given more time and practice with the Montessori math materials. Montessori teaches math in a very sensory way using counters, number cards, the golden beads, the hundred board, and math games. As children master numbers and simple counting, they go on to learn the decimal system, teens, hundreds, and thousands. After they learn about the composition of numbers, they learn about the operation of numbers (addition and subtraction). As in all areas, these math activities are introduced and practiced, but every child progresses at his/her own rate.
Hand Washing and Snack Time
The children have an opportunity to have another snack in the afternoon after they have washed their hands.
Story and Dismissal
The Expanded-Day Dragonflies end their day with a second story period to strengthen their listening and language skills. They are dismissed from their classroom at 2:45pm.