Toddlers and Preschoolers seem to have a built-in braking mechanism that kicks in whenever you’re in a hurry or have a schedule to keep. The more they resist, the more you push and the more you push, the more they resist. It’s like a religious war. There are never any winners. However, children do really thrive on a routine. They feel more in control when they can predict what’s coming next and being in control definitely makes them happy. Strike a balance and create a schedule that works by following these 3 rules:
1. Transitions Will Take Longer Than You Think
You may have Art from 9:00 to 9:25 and Music from 9:30 to 9:55, but at 9:25, with your child covered in sequins and glue in her hair and wanting more than anything to keep working on her masterpiece, do you really think you’ll be learning about pitch by 9:30? Build a more reasonable transition time into your schedule from the get-go and save yourself a lot of frustration. While your at it, try to minimize the number of transitions in a day. There’s no law that says you have to cover every subject every day, at least not that I know of and especially not at this age. Spread your curriculum out over the week. Try focusing on 3 or 4 subjects each day for a longer period and alternate those with recess and snacks.
2. Be Flexible
Be ready to go to plan B…and C, D, E, and F. Accidents and unforeseens will happen. You will be taking potty breaks during circle time and cleaning up faces covered with marker during science time. Activities will not go as planned. Preschoolers are also very complicated little souls. Quite similar to hormonal pre-teens, you never know if you will have an eager, cheerful cherub, or a testy, defiant troll. If you had planned to make rainclouds in a jar, but are trying to engage a child who won’t stop crying about getting the wrong cup at breakfast, it’s time for plan B. Make some adjustments to your schedule. Move up reading or music or something else they’re more receptive to, rather than fighting a losing battle. Your child will feel better in a little while and you can try the rainclouds then.
3. Keep it Simple
Less is more. Don’t expect too much of your preschooler. At this age, it’s very difficult for a child to sit for a length of time and focus on a task. Try to keep learning as organic and fun as possible. Keep tasks of concentration to short periods and don’t push it when your child is obviously ready to move on to something else. There’s plenty of time in grade school to establish academic discipline. Rather than planning elaborate projects that will frustrate or confuse your child, keep your activities quick and simple. Although simple experiences may seem boring to you, remember that your child is just discovering the world for the first time and a simple experience will make more sense to him.
Remember, there will be good days and bad days. Strive for a regular routine, but don’t become undone or think all is lost when you stray from your original plan. Your schedule should help you, not beat you down and some of the best lessons are accidental.
What kind of preschool daily schedule do you use? I’d love to hear any tips you might have to keep things running smoothly.