"How can we establish a schedule at home that mirrors what happens in the all-day class?"
As you prepare for the upcoming week of learning from home, I thought I would offer a few pointers as you establish a schedule for your child.
Primary aged children (2 ½ to 6 ½ years old) thrive on consistency and routine. They do well knowing what will (or what will not) happen at each point in the day, and often become disoriented (and act out) when surprises are thrown their way. The younger your child is, the more critical a consistent routine will be. As your child approaches 6 and beyond, they do become more flexible, but still appreciate having a plan for their day.
- "The challenge is to develop appropriate daily routines for children which offer them a sense of consistency and security, yet remain flexible and responsive to the individual needs of each child." -PBS.org
The all-day class schedule has been the same (give or take 5 minutes) for the last 13 years! If there are changes to our daily routine, we have a group gathering during the first five minutes of the day to share changes in the schedule (such as a tornado drill, child visitor, parent observer, or birthday circles). Knowing of changes ahead of time minimizes surprises and helps children feel in control of their day.
A parent reached out to me yesterday, suggesting that I share the flow of the classroom day so that parents can stick as closely to the regular school routine as possible. Our day flows as follows:
7:30 am to 8:30 am: Arrival and Preparation
Children begin their morning by having breakfast and preparing the space for work (such as cutting vegetables for snack, filling the water pitcher for sips throughout the day, or taking down the chairs).
8:30 am to 11:30 am: Morning work cycle (with snack)
Children have three hours of uninterrupted work time to engage with the materials in the classroom. They work with one material at a time at a table or a rug and mostly work individually. Children decide when they get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, have a snack, read a book, listen to music, or read a book. You can find ideas for age-appropriate activities in the Learning From Home Handbook prepared by the teachers and staff members of Arbor Montessori School.
11:30 to 11:45: Circle Time/Group Activity
We take a moment to gather as a community to sing, listen to a story, celebrate a birthday, or learn about a holiday at this time. The children like coming together as a group.
1:15 pm: Lunch and 45 min playtime
The children spend about 45 minutes of free play outside. We encourage lots of running! When they return inside, the children set their tables with a fork, knife, spoon, and glass and enjoy lunch as a group. When finished, they load their dishes into the dishwasher, wipe off their tables, and prepare for a nap or the afternoon work period.
1:15 to 4:00 pm: Afternoon work period (with nap from 1:15 to 3 pm and snack)
The five and six-year-old children engage in a work period that mirrors the morning cycle. The younger children rest for a minimum of 1 hour and then return to the classroom for work. The children are free to enjoy a snack (usually cheese and fruit) in the afternoon as well.
4:00 to 6:00: playtime and enrichment activities/free play.
Please know that we understand home life is very different from our typical school day. We simply hope that knowing your child's usual routine will better equip you to create a consistent plan that will work best for your family. Consider the following questions:
- What will "work" look like at home?
- What daily flow will best suit the children AND the parent's needs?
- When will we come together as a family to check in and say hello before returning to our respective activities?