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Toddler Curriculum for Daycare Centers

written by: Kara Bietz • edited by: Patricia Gable • updated: 10/9/2012

Create an effective, developmentally appropriate toddler daycare curriculum. You need more than a circle rug and a snack table. Use this article for ideas to include when implementing a curriculum plan for your toddler classroom.

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    What to Include

    It is important to keep in mind the developmental levels of the children in your classroom when creating a toddler daycare curriculum. Very young toddlers will not be capable of the same types of activities as older toddlers. If you have a mixture of ages in your classroom, it may be necessary to create two complementary curricula, based on the developmental level of the children. Before beginning to plan a curriculum, it is necessary to recognize the goals you have for your class. Doing so will help you design a curriculum that will help you meet those goals. There are several things a basic curriculum should contain.

    • Daily, but very short, circle time activities
    • A balance of quiet and noisy activities
    • A balance of child-centered vs. teacher-directed activities
    • Individual activities as well as small group opportunities
    • Daily outdoor play
    • Daily sensory play

    Once you decide on the types of activities you would like to include in your daily curriculum plan, set up a simple chart, noting the reason for each point in your curriculum. For example:

    • Morning Circle Time: Read a short book followed by a movement or music activity. Introduce the day's plan, greet each child.
    • Center Time: A balance of individual and small group opportunities. One teacher-directed activity available at this time. Sensory activity available at this time.
    • Daily Care: Washing hands, toileting and diapering, clean up and preparation for morning snack.
    • Morning Snack
    • Outdoor Play: A balance of individual and small group opportunities. One teacher-directed activity available at this time.
    • Movement Circle: Ten-minute teacher-directed large group activity
    • Daily Care: Washing hands, toileting and diapering, clean up and preparation for lunch.
    • Lunch
    • Nap
    • Center Time: A balance of individual and small group opportunities. No teacher-directed activities at this time. Teachers will float to each center and help when necessary. Sensory activity available at this time.
    • Daily Care: Washing hands, toileting and diapering, clean up and preparation for afternoon snack.
    • Afternoon Snack
    • Outdoor Play: A balance of individual and small group opportunities. Teacher available for small group, teacher-directed activity if there is interest.
    • Closing Circle: Review the days activities, talk about what is happening the next day. Prepare children for departure.

    Use this chart to create a daily or weekly lesson plan for your classroom. If one of your curriculum goals is to provide opportunities for children to become more self-sufficient with daily care, be sure to provide for this in your lesson plan. Increase the time allotted for daily care and really work on providing opportunities for children to wash their own hands, help with setting the tables for snack and lunch, and setting up the nap cots and blankets. Flexibility and the ability to change the curriculum if necessary are the keys to a successful daycare curriculum for your young students.