If you attended preschool yourself, you may wonder how your child's experience will compare to your own. As it turns out, the classrooms and daily routines are not as different as you might think. In each classroom, the sequence of daily activities will be slightly different but will follow a predictable pattern. There will be times to do things together as a group and times to work independently. There will be times to sit quietly and draw, times to do puzzles or listen to stories, and times to move vigorously. Your child will have opportunities to initiate activities: build a tower with blocks, cut out shapes, paint at an easel. There will also be activities led by the teacher such as learning a new song or listening to a story.
Daily classroom routines typically include:
- Circle or group time: Children sit together, and the teacher initiates a conversation about topics such as the weather, the calendar, the seasons, a field trip, or an upcoming holiday. Sometimes she leads a discussion about a special theme or group project. The children learn concepts of time and space and gain new vocabulary words.
- Free choice: Children choose from a variety of different activities available in the classroom: block-building, puzzles, dress-up, water or sand play, drawing, or painting. They initiate their own play, either alone or with other children. They learn how to work independently, take turns, share, and play cooperatively with others.
- Group activity: During this time, children may learn a song or dance. They may participate in making up a story, preparing a meal, planning a village, or working on a science or art project. They practice new skills, develop fine motor control, learn how to communicate their ideas and needs effectively, and learn how to work together as a team.
- Snack: As they eat, preschoolers learn social and practical skills: how to set the table, to pass the juice and crackers, to carry on a conversation.
- Outdoor play: Climbing, running, jumping, bouncing balls, and crawling through tunnels helps children develop large-muscle control, motor coordination, and balance.
- Cleanup: As they clear the table or put away the blocks, children learn how to plan, organize, and work with others.
- Story time: Children gather together in a comfortable corner of the room to listen as the teacher tells a story or reads from a book. They look at the illustrations and discuss them. The teacher asks questions about the story, helping children to learn to predict what will happen next. She encourages them to think about the characters and plot and to use new vocabulary from the story.
- Special events: There will be occasional variations in the daily routine for class trips related to special interests, such as a visit to a local restaurant to see how food is prepared, to a bank to learn about money, to the park to look at leaves or discover what lives under that rock. Special visitors like police officers, firefighters, or doctors will also come to the classroom occasionally. Sometimes parents will come in to share a special skill or cultural tradition.