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A Typical Schedule in Daycare

written by: Kendra Dahlstrom • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/11/2012

Anyone thinking of starting a daycare, or looking for a change should stick to a typical daily schedule at daycare that works. This article explains a proven schedule and explains why it works.

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    A typical daily schedule at daycare lasts from morning until afternoon. Preschool learning time usually takes only about 3 hours in the morning or afternoon. The rest of the day usually entails free play inside or outside. This article explains an average daycare day beginning at 7:00 AM and ending at 5:00 PM since these times encompass the average workday. Simply adjust your day accordingly if your times vary from the example given.

    • 7:00 - Free play while children arrive
    • 8:30 - Opening and calendar time
    • 8:45 - Song time
    • 9:00 - Learning Time
    • 9:30 - Play Outside
    • 10:00 - Snack
    • 10:30 - Craft
    • 11:15 - Story time
    • 11:30 - Fine motor skill
    • 12:00 - Lunch
    • 12:30 - Rest time
    • 2:30 - Free play
    • 3:00 - Snack
    • 3:30 - Free play

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    Order of Daycare Activities

    Whether you use the provided daycare schedule or not, you should maintain a nice balance of active learning, quiet learning, and free play. This gives the children's brains time to process new information without spending too much time on one activity. A typical daycare schedule also incorporates meals and snacks during strategic times. Children cannot concentrate on an empty stomach. If the parents expect you to feed their children breakfast, make sure to add that into the schedule during the first free play session.

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    Importance of Free Play in Preschool

    Much of a preschooler's day is spent in free play mode. In this schedule, the children get 4 hours of free time to play inside or outside. This doesn't mean, however, that this time is unproductive. Children younger than kindergarten age cannot sit still for hours at a time learning letters and numbers. They simply haven't developed that sort of attention span. Instead, free play helps them learn other skills, like imagination development and social interaction. A typical daily schedule at daycare provides a nice balance, often scheduling free play after quiet activities.

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    Entertainment in Preschool Learning Activities

    A typical daily schedule at daycare should incorporate learning with fun. During song time, have the children learn a song that teaches them the days of the week or the months of the year, for example. Incorporate a learning activity with a craft. If you're learning about nocturnal animals, for instance, make paper bag owls. Incorporating preschool themes into daily learning helps engage children and keep them interested in learning. A honey theme, monkey theme, or a Spring theme teaches children science concepts in an entertaining way. Anything you can do to make learning fun encourages a love for preschool and daycare. It also helps the children retain more information and come back wanting more.

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    Rest Time in Daycare

    Children young enough to attend daycare all day, but not yet old enough for kindergarten often need rest time. Children younger than 3 especially need time to nap and recharge their bodies. A daycare with children ranging in age from 2 to 5 should give the 2 and 3 year olds time to rest for the entire 2 hours. If they fall asleep and wake up naturally before the 2 hours is up, go ahead and let them quietly draw or play with a quiet toy. Older children who no longer fall asleep during nap time can take this time to rest their bodies by looking through books, coloring, playing quiet board games, or watching an educational video. If there are enough adults available to split up the children, take the older ones into a separate room and let them play group games like "Heads up 7-Up", "Telephone", or any other group activity.

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    Keeping a structured, yet flexible daycare schedule gives children a sense of security. It also encourages learning and promotes a happy atmosphere. Of course you can order your own daily events, but looking at a typical daily schedule at daycare helps preschool teachers and daycare providers by showing them a sequence of activities that works.