Daily schedules are an integral part of an early childhood classroom. Schedules, arranged by activity or time, establish the day’s structure and block out the events of the day in an orderly manner. A well-designed schedule is a key element of a high quality learning environment and offers benefits for children, families and teachers. For children, a schedule is a consistent daily plan that directly impacts learning by creating comfort in their surroundings. Schedules allow families to understand the order of the day, and schedules support teachers’ development of a consistent framework from which to plan appropriate activities for children.
Daily schedules should be used in all classrooms and can be applied to part-time or full-time programs, private or public, home based, center based or school based programs. Schedules should be posted at child-level and should include both pictures and print. Sample schedules for infants through Kindergarten are included with this guide.
Benefits of daily scheduling
Having an order to the day helps children…
- Build trust
- feel secure
- feel in control
- cope in unfamiliar situations
Having an order to the day helps families…
- know what is happening for their child
- communicate with their children about their day
- coordinate home schedules
Having an order to the day helps teachers…
- plan intentionally
- plan one-on-one interactions with specific children
- with behavior management
Qualities of a Daily Schedule
- Every daily schedule should be developmentally and culturally appropriate. Schedules are related to the age of the children for whom they are developed, adjusted for individual needs and respect the social and cultural differences present in the group.
- Reliable and consistent daily schedules develop children’s independence and provide a secure environment for learning when the day’s events remain constant from day to day and week to week. Children are able to focus on learning and activities without worrying about interruptions or changes in the routine. The schedule and routines should always remain in place, even if there is a substitute in the classroom.
- A good daily schedule allows for flexibility. Activities typically happen in a sequence that occurs the same way every day. However, a skilled early childhood teacher changes, modifies or adapts a daily schedule as the need arises. Teachers must learn to read children’s signals and adjust events accordingly, assessing whether it is more beneficial to allow the play or experience to continue or to move to a different activity.
- Experiences in all Key Learning Areas (defined in PA Early Learning Standards) are incorporated into the schedule on a daily basis. Teachers are effective facilitators of learning when they plan for an integrated curriculum approach, developing activities that incorporate many areas of learning within one experience.