Choosing a Home Daycare: Consider the activity schedule

What types of activities will your child be engaging in during a typical 8 hours at a home daycare?  Some children thrive on a set routine that they can rely on.  Other children enjoy change and like a new adventure each day.  No matter what the structure is at a certain home daycare there needs to be time to play, time to eat, time to explore new activities, time to be social, time to be alone, and time to rest.  A fantastic caregiver will organize the day to make sure it encorporates all of these activities.

Young children have limited attention spans and little bodies are designed to move and explore.  They need constant refueling and build in activities to help them come together to function as a group member.  An ideal schedule for a small children involves a series of active self-directed times and calm focused times during the day.  Children need to have room to move and explore according to their own agenda.  They also need to follow directions given by an adult and calmly focus on a set task at different times during the day.

Here is an example of a typical day that involves activities that are active self -directed followed by calm focused activities.  This pattern repeats itself though out the whole day. Traveling to daycare in the morning would be classified as focused because the child needs to help get themselves ready and sit calmly in the car.  The first thing after arriving at daycare should be an active self-directed time where the child has a chance to relax and greet the new daycare day at their own pace.

Next would be a structured focused activity such as a circle time or craft.  Then children would be offered the option of several different self-directed activities such as dress-up, play dough or puzzles.  Clean-up and snack are considered calm focused activities and then outside for active self-directed fun.

The day continues in this patten of self-directed active play followed by a focused calm activity.  This recipe meets the child’s needs.  Young children’s bodies need to run around and explore.  Their developing self needs to make decisions about what it wants to do and what type of play it wants to engage in on a given day.  The child’s physical body needs a focused time to get refueled with food and rest.

Daily activities vary from caregiver to caregiver.  Some offer lots of early academics, others offer lots of crafts and still others promote lots of outdoor play.  You need to find the home daycare that includes activities that best fit your child’s needs and interests.  The important aspect to remember is to ask about the daily schedule or rhythm of the day.  Is there a repeating pattern of self-directed active activities with calm focused activities?  This is how your child’s needs will be met.  At the end of the day, when you pick up a child who is happy and relaxed, you will know the daily activities met their needs.