I’m sure you know or have heard that young children thrive on routine. A consistent daycare routine will help your day flow smoothly and make your daycare children feel safe and secure. Young children have very little control over their lives. Most children don’t get a choice of where, when or how they spend their day. Therefore, if a child can rely on a predictable sequence of events that they know will unfold during a typical day, they will feel more secure. Children often have trouble with transitions from one activity in the day to the next. A predictable routine will help ease most transitions.
A structured routine will also greatly help the caregiver. A routine will help you meet the needs of multiple children. There is a good chance that you will have a few families as your daycare clients. That means you will have children who are hungry and tired at different times of the day. The more you meet the needs of your daycare children, the easier the day will be for the caregiver.
Feeding children when they are hungry and putting them down for a nap when they are tired is the obvious solution to best meet their needs. The tricky part comes when you have multiple children who are all on their own internal schedule. Some eat breakfast very early and therefore are hungry at 9:00am for a morning snack. Others eat breakfast late and aren’t hungry until 10:30am for morning snack. If you fed each child individually you would never leave the kitchen! You need to create a routine that strikes a balance for all the children and yourself.
Here is a sample routine that works well for a variety of age groups (1 year olds to 6 year olds).
7:00am- 8:00am- Daycare children arrive and enjoy self-directed play with toys.
7:30am- Breakfast is served (this option is offered depending on when you open for the day)
8:30am- Circle Time
Toys are tidied up and children take part in a circle time. Circle time is when children sit together to sing a song, hear a story, or do an activity. Often an activity can be introduced at circle and then opened up for self-directed discovery time. For example, the children could be shown how to tear tissue paper to make long strips in red and white. Then, after circle time, the strips of tissue paper could be used at craft time to make a Valentine’s Day craft.
9:00am- Craft/Activity Time
9:30am- Snack Time
10:00am- Washroom break/diapering
10:15-11:30- Outside Play
11:30- 12:00 -Wash hands, washroom break and lunch preparations
12:30- Story time and Washroom break/diapering
1:00pm-3:00pm Nap time for babies and toddlers
1:00pm-2:00pm Quiet time with books for non-sleepers
2:00pm- Sit down activities for older children. Colouring, cutting/pasting, puzzles, stamping, plasticine, Lego, etc.
3:00pm- Washroom break/diapering
3:15pm- Snack Time
3:45-4:30- Self-directed play
4:30-5:30- Outside Play and pick-up time
This type of routine will meet the needs of your older daycare children as well as your younger babies. If you have young babies that nap in the morning, they could easily nap before you go outside to play or many babies will enjoy a mid-morning nap in the stroller or in a baby sling. This routine will also allow for you, the caregiver to have a break from 1:00pm to 2:00pm every day. Your older non-nappers will quickly become accustomed to their hour long quiet time when they play or read quietly on their own. I suggest spreading your non-nappers out throughout your house so that they have their own space to dream and rest in their own imaginary world.
Try out your routine and then shift it around as you discover a better way to organize your time. You are your own boss and you set the schedule. Enjoy the freedom!