Children

Shape of the Day

Children are more comfortable in preschool when their day has a predictable and pleasing rhythm-a comfortable balance between activity and rest, noise and quiet, group and individual activity, indoor and outdoor play. Such a schedule lets children know what to expect and what is expected of them.

At the same time, we hope to create a sense of time in our program that feels generous and responsive, that allows children to invest deeply in what they are doing, and encourages them to attend to their personal needs and rhythms. Our old friend Sam put it well: “A good school needs free time, so you can build on your imagination.”

You’ll notice that our basic schedule minimizes the number of regimented transitions children have to make during our time together, protecting a large block of time when children have access to the full range of choices-all of the indoor and outdoor play areas and all of the teacher-directed and child-directed activities-that make up our curriculum.

The schedule below approximates a typical day at Children First. The shape of the day may change from week to week and season to season depending on our observations of the children as they grow and as the group evolves.


8:30 – 9:00 Arrival
Children and their grown-ups check their “clipboard mail” on the walkway, then orient themselves to the plan for the day at the Morning Message. Families and teachers check in with each other and help children settle in before families say good-bye.Then children pitch in on classroom set-up tasks, and begin to discover and work with the “provocations” teachers have arranged throughout the classroom and playground-materials and activities chosen to respond to or inspire children’s work on their particular interests and goals.

caroline lilllian mail


9:00 – 11:15 Work and Play
Children choose from a wide variety of activities throughout the classroom and playground, like building, pretend play, making music, painting, tinkering with loose parts, sensory exploration and active outdoor play. Each teacher works with children on planned small-group or individual activities like drawing from life, storytelling, cooking, science investigations, wood sculpture, reading words, or other focused work with materials. Both teachers stand ready to help as needed with the conflict resolution and negotiation that is always part of children’s cooperative play. Healthy snacks are available to children throughout this time.

sarah alex table


11:15 – 12:00 Outdoor Time and Clean-up
One teacher helps children work together to tidy the classroom and prepare the bike deckfor meeting; meanwhile, the playground, library and snack all remain open for children to use in self-directed ways with the support of the second teacher.

clean up 3


12:00 – 12:30 Meeting
One teacher gathers with the children to review the morning’s activities, tell stories, sing, play games, discuss classroom issues and plans, and act out stories told by the children. The other teacher sets tables for lunch.

There’s a new bike deck meeting photo already in that I managed to drop in before things got messed up

bike deck meeting


12:30 – 1:00 Lunch
Children wash their hands and gather for lunch in small groups at two different picnic tables. At each table, teachers read books and lead discussions. Children eat until they are finished, and then pack up their leftovers then play and help their families with playground clean-up. to wait for or join their families.

caroline lilllian mail


1:00-1:15 Good-Byes
Teachers share stories of the day with families on the playground until about 1:15, then say good-bye and sit down together back in the classroom to review the day and plan for tomorrow.