I've been working on a schedule. Funny how we revert back to our comfort zone, even as we are in the midst of a break-through. I had a schedule all made up. I had broken into half-hour increments. After posting it on the web-site and looking at it for a few days, I realized this was exactly what I did not want. I scraped it and just sat on the idea of a schedule for a few days.
I imagined what the days would look like with 5 to 8 kids in tow from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. I thought about the rhythm of the last seven years, what worked, what didn't. Slowly, I started picturing the days as they flow. I decided that in order to have the type of preschool that I want, the type that is tranquil and flowing but yet fun and exciting, I cannot have a set schedule!
How can I have rhythms without a set schedule? I decided to break the day into chunks; morning, afternoon and evening. This allow for rhythms without a rigid schedule that can stifle creativity.
The morning flow will be a bit more structured in the sense that I will be more involved in guiding children through the activities. The afternoon consists of lunch, clean up and rest time. The evening will consist of self-directed activities and wind-down in preparation for going home.
A sample of morning activities may be making musical instruments, using them in the circle gathering. The children may work on the flower garden, planning and planting. The children will always be involved in snack preparation and clean up. There will be other activities available for children who finish their work. Those who delve into their projects with more aplomb can spend more time on them without a break in the rhythm. So the morning continues with activities and chores until lunch time. Yes, you read that correctly, children will be doing chores. Clean up is an essential part of learning.
Lunch is not viewed as something to get through so we can go outside and play. In fact lunch becomes as integral to the learning as any cognitive activity. The children, with guidance will set the table with real dishes, glasses and utensils. No plastic sippy cups or divided plastic plates. Those are convenient for travel, but have no place during a fine dining experience. The children will wash, dry and put away the dishes. After lunch, it's time to relax, reflect and perhaps even time for a nap.
Late afternoon or evening allows children to express themselves in self-directed activities. You'll be surprised the great things little ones come up with if given time and minimal involvement. Depending on the time most children get pick up, we will start winding down about 30 minutes prior. Wash up, read or tell stories, talk about the day, anticipate the next day.
Simple, predictable and flexible...I like it.