Perfecting Preschool: Schedule

preschool

My goal this year has been to somehow begin a formal preschool program for my 4 and 2 year old toddlers while continuing to educate my teens with high school level work. Talk about a challenge! I’ve combed many resources and the reason I’m creating this 10-post series for perfecting preschool is mainly for my own mental organization.

It isn’t that we haven’t done anything educational with the little boys already. My four year old was already pretty good at naming all of the letters, drawing his name and shape drawings, and he knew all of his colors and most numbers – even before we started preschool. I just didn’t want them watching TV as much any more, and I knew the four year old was ready to start learning to read because of how well he was doing learning his letters. His drawing skills had increased to the point where I knew he had the motor skills to begin working on letter and number writing, too. I was right! He really took to the new preschool and kindergarten level workbooks, dry erase boards, and flashcards we got him.

Dry erase flash cards. #preschool

Instead of creating a very rigid schedule, I decided to use flexible time blocks and move them around to where they fit best in our day depending on the variables that are at play within our family’s routines.

Here are the different things I wanted to fit in to our schedule:

Reading Time – Read Alouds or Free “Reading” (with books mama picks/library books)
Play Time – time for free play with toys in their room or in the living room
Movie Time – educational children’s videos/DVDs/programming
App Time – educational children’s apps on iPhone, iPad, and Nook
Circle Time – time to sing, pray, discuss, memorize, and come together as a family unit
Creative Time – Arts, crafts, drawing, coloring, or cooking
Phonics Time – learning to read (only with my 4 year old), best done during Nap Time
Nap Time or Quiet Time – depending on the day/mood
Music Time – listening to music, dancing, or learning music via Quaver Music, piano lessons for the 4yo
Bath Time – they love playing with suds and bath toys, and this helps to transition between activities
Wiggle Time – outdoor or indoor exercise
Field Trip Time – learning beyond our home – in the “wild”
Activity Time – checking off our huge activity list, one awesome thing at a time
Chore Time – learning life skills depending on age and maturity

I knew that without some form of a schedule we would not be able to get as much of these awesome things done this year as I hope we can. Right now we are working on learning new habits so we can make the schedules I listed below a ROUTINE for us. It takes a month, they say, to create a new habit that sticks!

Cuz he's a #preschool coolie. #A+

At the bottom of this post, I share my three different schedules we use for our week (one day is a FULL preschool day, one is a HALF preschool day, and Fridays are “fun days” because I’m planning to put our park days, field trips, and exciting activities on that day).

Thursdays have been my testing zone days for the new preschool schedule. On Thursdays, we co-op with other homeschool families and my big kids are gone most of the day. Another mother brings my teenagers home, so after we get back from dropping them off in the early morning, I have the little punks to themselves to practice perfecting preschool with ALL DAY without interruption.

While I haven’t felt like I have “mastered” any sort of schedule, at least I’ve tried to get most of these things in on that day – and the boys have certainly NOTICED. I think they are really enjoying learning – and that’s the point!

In fact, the other day, as I was dropping off the big kids for school, they asked me to stay in the parking-lot so they could finish a last minute assignment before going in to their classes.

Koko piped up from the back seat, “We can’t stay at your school. We have to go home and do preschool.”

I love to hear my little guys enjoying the purposeful time we spend together learning new things. I’m so glad they look forward to it all week like I do. It isn’t that we don’t do many of these things on other days of the week, but we do more of them, and use a more directed schedule on Thursdays.

Here are some resources I’m using to get ideas and fine-tune our preschool routines:

Clay and Sally Clarkson’s – Educating the WholeHearted Child — Third Edition

This book is a goldmine. I recommend it to anyone who is considering homeschooling (I actually endorsed it in the first few pages of the new edition, and no-one paid me to). I think it would be good for ALL parents (even though it will probably convict you to homeschool if you aren’t considering homeschooling). There are hundreds of quotes in this book that encourage my heart, and there are general ideas on how to be the best parent you can be, the best home educator you can be, and how to nurture and bless your children according to their own god-given bent. She has a typical day schedule listed in the back.

Kendra Fletcher’s – Preschoolers and Peace

Love all her tips and ideas on how to schedule your day and maximize your learning time with the tots.

Our Preschool Homeschool Blog

She has a nice schedule and free resources and links to printables and such.

I’m probably going to laminate some cards with the names of each time block and the activity list on the back of each of them and get a wall chart with pockets so the preschoolers can help me put the time block cards in to each slot so they can see how their day is progressing. At this point, I’m not sure where I would store something of that nature, but if it can be rolled up at the end of the day and kept in the garage, maybe that would work. Or it may be time to pull out the peg board again and laminate small cards they can hang as we go about our day.

Anyway, here’s our schedule that we are working on implementing right now…

preschool-schedule

FULL DAY PRESCHOOL SCHEDULE (for Thursday when the big kids are gone most of the day):

Wake
Eat Breakfast / Drop Teens Off
Circle Time for Preschoolers Only
Reading Time
Snack
Creative Time
Play Time
Wiggle Time
Lunch
Movie time
App Time
Nap Time or Quiet Time
Phonics Time
Activity Time (hardest and messiest activities reserved for Thursdays)
Snack
Chore Time
Clean Room/Tidy House
Music Time (right now my mom teaches piano Thursday after dinner)
Bath Time
Free Time
Bed Time

HALF DAY PRESCHOOL SCHEDULE (for Monday-Wednesday when we have high schoolers at home):

Wake
Eat Breakfast
Circle Time with Preschoolers and High School Kids
Reading Time
Play Time
Snack
Movie time or Wiggle Time
Lunch
Music Time
App Time
Nap Time or Quiet Time
Phonics Time
Activity Time
Snack
Chore Time
Clean Room/Tidy House
Bath Time
Free Time
Bed Time

FRIDAY FUN DAY PRESCHOOL SCHEDULE:

Wake
Eat Breakfast
Circle Time with Preschoolers and High School Kids
Field Trip Time or Activity Time or Creative Time (depends on if we have a field trip)
Play Time
Movie time
Lunch
Reading Time and App Time OR Wiggle Time (usually park days scheduled here)
Nap Time or Quiet Time
Phonics Time
Snack
Chore Time
Clean Room/Tidy House
Bath Time
Free Time
Bed Time

Want a little printable spreadsheet of these schedules? I created one for myself and I’d be glad to share it: Sprittibee’s Preschool Schedule Chart (Dropbox Link)

I’ll be honest; with my crew, right now, we are mostly un-learning a lot of bad habits that came from not enough directed/purposeful activity with the tiny guys. We aim to get these schedules firmly planted in the family routine, but it has been slow going so far. High school has been difficult, also – but we are making weekly progress towards the goal!

The other difficult things we have coming up – my 2 yo is nearing the potty training stage, and my four year old is nearing the “I don’t need a nap any more” stage. Life is exciting, isn’t it?!

Next up in the series will be Day 4, Toys. Do you have any MUST HAVE preschool toys to share with me? Although we do have a lot of toys that have been handed down through the years from my big kids to their little siblings, I really am not a toy fanatic. We probably have more toys leaving our house than coming in to it these days. I like to purge the boxes and bins every few months. I would love to hear from you on this topic, so I can be sure to put the BEST toys on the Christmas list for the grandparents this fall!

Perfecting Preschool Series:

Day 1: Learning Spaces

Day 2: Activities

Day 3: Schedule

Day 4: Toys

Day 5: Rules

Day 6: Books

Day 7: Circle Time

Day 8: Arts & Crafts

Day 9: Music

Day 10: Electronics & Apps

Don’t forget to come back each day to read the rest of the series!

P.S. I’ll be giving away and reviewing some preschool-friendly items during this series, so don’t miss a day!

P.S.S Don’t forget to join us this month for the #HSchallenge Photo-a-Day Instagram Challenge for homeschoolers! We’re only on Day 3 tomorrow, and it’s easy to click a photo on your smart phone – so you can catch up and join us for all 30 days – easy peasy!

{ Happy homeschoolin’, y’all! }

In Him,

Heather

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