The Why’s of my Routine

I have had many requests for my routine and daily schedule so today is all about the ins and outs of my day!  If you’re thinking about changing up your routine or just need somewhere to start chunk it into smaller, actionable steps:

  1. Think and write down a short list of non-negotiables of your schedule…does your district or school require you to have certain learning times ie: circle, recess, and snack time? As we get into the process, while you might be handed a pre-made schedule, you must do what’s best for your kids and this can be worked on with administration!
  2. Write down the staff you will have available during your day.
  3. Define your types of learners…ie: one year I had a very active, brand new to a setting class and the next I had a less active, more experienced in setting class. You might need more movement opportunities especially in the beginning and less sitting tasks!

My schedule is based on a 3-hour chunk of time as we are currently a half day program in both Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4.  If this was a full day situation, I would most likely repeat a similar routine in the afternoon, knowing that maybe I would switch out a specials time for a nap/quiet tim.  As new students join my class, I know that week I will be allotted an extra substitute assistant to help us adjust.  I plan flexible activities, but the routine stays mostly the same.  If we need more time transitioning, playing, eating, etc we take it!

Basic routine

8:05-8:40- Students arrive, hang up belongings, check schedules and sit for optional breakfast.  If they do not want to eat, the check their schedules again and have “choose time”.  We also start sending kids to the bathroom.

8:40-9:00- Circle time part one!

9:00-9:30- Specials

9:30-9:40- Circle time part 2, toileting if needed

9:40-10:00- Work with teacher time

10:00-10:10-Snack time

10:10-10:40- Centers

10:40-11:00- Pack up, toileting, recess, bus

Now let’s take a look at each part of the routine and my reasoning behind it!

Choose Time

I love choose time.  This was created based out of a need to help kids unwind, get everyone toileted, fed, belongings unpacked, kids off the bus, folders unpacked, and the list goes on!  If you have a time that you are by yourself or very low staffed and you need time to get things set for the day, enter in choose time! I have a selection of toys the kids can play with (ie: kitchen and blocks centers are closed off).  I rotate the toys out every month or so and it ranges from Mr. Potato head, different blocks, and fun large Lego sets.  My reading and writing centers are always open so students can also go there.  *Reminder that all of these routines need to be practiced.  You must teach your kids what toys are open, how to know when to clean up, HOW to clean up, and what is expected next.  

Circle Time

I love circle time because it sets the stage for the day. It is flexible if we need more movement dances, I get to spiral skills and teach new ones, and we practice imitation skills and work on social foundations!  We have the same routine each day and the activities change depending on the skills I am targeting.  We start off by saying hello to each other both verbally and on a device and then the kids LOVE “Say Hello” on Go Noodle!  We then move into our calendar routine which consists of discussing the month, clapping out the syllables of the month, counting in different voices for the number date and then singing the “Days of the Week” song on the TV. Next, it’s usually already time for a Go Noodle movement song, followed by letter routines, a read aloud, movement song, interactive activity (maybe an anchor chart or math manipulatives), and closing with a mindful song like “Melting” or “Calming”.   The reason in my schedule I have a circle time part 1 and 2 is because sometimes we last a little longer and sometimes toileting and transitioning after specials requires more structure and time!

Work with Teacher

Confession: I put way too much pressure on myself during work with teacher time.  Sometimes I feel like if we do not actually produce a tangible product I question if I really practiced a skill. I cannot believe I am even typing this because I would never think that about another teacher! Some days if we have new students who have just turned three or are entering school for the first time, we will work on pairing teacher time with something fun such as playdoh or a fun bingo dauber activity.  We want kids to WANT to come to teacher time, so we pair this time with lots of positive praise, support, reinforcers and flexibility.  If I have a student who does not want to come to teacher time at first, I let them come and go, heavily reinforcing them when they return to the table.  Currently, I have 12 students (14 in March) and there are two of us in the room, so work with teacher time might look very different or be much shorter for a little while and that is OK!  

Centers

I recently wrote a more detailed blog on centers and you can find that here! I really try and give my kids 30-45 minutes of center time.  Once the kids are settling into their center, my assistant or I will quickly write notes home, stuff folders, pack up book bags and start toileting again.  I will then go into centers and work on tons of play, communication, and social foundational skills such as sharing, turn taking, how to play with toys, cleaning up, etc!.

Pack up Procedure

Again, due to staffing and the number of students we have, packing up looks like this: Daniel Tiger video or Go Noodle on the interactive TV for 10 minutes.  Sometimes we will have the kids go back to choose time or use play doh at the tables.  I have no shame about it either.  I need students to stay safe and structured while we get on multiple safety harnesses, jackets, bookbags, and outerwear.  This routine keeps kiddos calm, in one area for accountability and we leave the room safely!  If the weather is nice, we end our day with recess on the playground!  I make sure to make time for this because playing is so important…for any age!   Happy Learning!

Gina Russell, B.S , M.Ed
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5 Comments

  1. Thank you for your “pack up procedures!” I struggle with my student’s behavior at the end of the day and it seems no matter what I do it ends in chaos. I love the idea of allowing some choice time at the end or videos. I usually have the kids clean-up and come to circle for a couple quick songs and goodbye. It ends in kids running around the room, jumping off tables, etc..(you know the drill). I am going to try putting out our “table time” choice time activities at the end to see if this will keep some of the kids occupied while we put coats, vests, backpacks on.

    Reply
  2. Hi Tracy! Happy to hear! Thanks for reading 🙂

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  3. So glad you found it helpful Tracy!!

    Gina 🙂

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  4. First, I just found your blog! For this 1st year teacher it is so amazing! Quick question about your Work With Teacher time. You said you had 12 students, do you work with them all at the same time? I assume this is direct instruction time, but can you give a few more specifics on what that looks like? I only have my class for 2 hours, trying to fit everything in 2 hours has proven to be very difficult and I feel like everything we do in the classroom is rushed. Thank you for such a helpful site!

    Reply
  5. Hi Carrie!

    Great question! Each year it changes depending on the students. For example, one year I was able to break my class up into two work with teacher groups while one group played in centers. The next year this was not possible. Currently, I would have my 12 students in two groups, one with an EA and one with me. We would do a short activity that correlated with my circle time activities. I used my circle time as a springboard for whatever activity/standard I was teaching that day. Some newer children depending on their level would flex in and out as that was their skill level and they were not yet working for 10-15 minutes, rather 30 seconds. I always had file folders to extend for early finishers or I allowed them to go to the reading area while I finished up with others. I have some blog posts about my whole morning routine as my mornings were only 3 hours and that included a special, snack, recess, toileting etc! It sure is a lot to fit in! I hope that helps!! Thanks for reading!

    Gina 🙂

    Reply

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