If you're a licensed program with your state, accrediting, or aligning with quality rating scales, the likelihood that you are required to post a schedule is high. I am in no way advocating for people to defy the powers that be. They exist for a reason and their purpose is a good one.
However, just because you're required to post it, doesn't mean it has to be in-depth, and it, by no means, requires you to abide by it. We'll get back to that in a minute.
Early childhood classrooms are not governed by core curriculum standards. Read that aloud. Early childhood classrooms are not governed by core curriculum standards. This has got to be the greatest part about the difference between early childhood education and traditional K-12 education. This is a privilege that we have over K-12 teachers. We need to acknowledge this. Unfortunately, for a vast majority of early childhood teachers, we're still behaving as if we are bound by core standards. We're behaving as though the children in our care are required to be able to do X, Y, and Z before they go to kindergarten.
That's not true. No quality rating scale or state regulation explains an "end point of aptitude" for the children in early childhood environments. We need to take advantage of this freedom by implementing developmentally appropriate practices. It's important to mention that D.A.P. defies boundary within NAEYC. It just so happens that NAEYC has a very good handle of what those practices are. A program can be 100% aligned with developmentally appropriate practices and still never accredit through NAEYC, and that's okay. Accreditation does not determine a program's true quality.
I am all about releasing the archaic need for control in a classroom. I am all about giving up that age-old notion that "I am adult. You are child. You respect me. I scare you. I love you. You fear me. You love me. You have no option." Not only is that wrong and setting a horrible precedent for social awareness in the future, it's just stupid. Plain stupid and useless. One of the most controversial ways I encourage teachers to release control is by killing off the role lesson planning plays in the early childhood classroom. Think about being in control versus facilitation this way: When you "control your classroom", every time you get a new student or group of students, you're back at square one and have to go through all the stresses of acclimating these brains to your rigid, developmentally inappropriate set of expectations. When you don't "control your classroom", that won't matter to you.
I walked into a classroom the other day with a schedule that listed the following:
8:00am - 8:30am: Breakfast
8:30am - 9:00am: Circle Time
9:00am - 9:30am: (Monday/Wednesday/Friday) Science (Tuesday/Thursday) Story Time
9:30am - 10:00am: Writing/Language/Literacy
10:00am - 10:30am: Math
10:30am - 11:00am: Outside Time
11:00am - 11:30am: Art
11:30am - 12:00pm: Lunch
12:00pm - 3:00pm: Nap
3:00pm - 6:00pm: Snack & Play
Two and a half hours of what this teacher considers "learning". I hate this. I hate this about so many of the teachers in our profession. Not only does splitting up Art, Science, Writing, Language, Literacy, and Math imply that these subjects never overlap, it also signals a gross lack of trust in the students.
If you can't trust that little Johnny is going to gain some language and literacy skills by hearing you talk while you play together, you aren't trusting Johnny as a student or yourself as a teacher.
If you can't trust that little Mary is capable of using her own imagination to make art out of mud outside, you are stifling her ability to believe that she can succeed on her own.
If you can't trust that there are materials in your classroom or outdoor areas to explain, by the very nature of their existence, concepts related to science and math, it's time to buy items worth having (i.e. get rid of the "Frozen" toys).
What hurts most is that this implies that playing comes secondary to learning. Which shouldn't even need further explanation: total, unabridged, unexplained play is the ONLY way to fully grasp new concepts.
Assuming this schedule required mealtimes to stay the same, I made it better.
8:00am - 8:30am: Breakfast
8:30am - 8:45am: Storytime / Stretches / Songs (Exploration Available Elsewhere if Needed)
8:45am - 10:00am: Outdoor Exploration (Play)
10:00am - 11:30am: Indoor Exploration (Play)
11:30am - 12:00pm: Lunch
12:00pm - 1:00pm: Outdoor Exploration
1:00pm - 3:00pm: Quiet Time or Exploration for Non-Sleepers
3:00pm - 3:30pm: Snack
3:30pm - 6:00pm: Indoor/Outdoor Exploration As Requested
A cookie-cutter teacher may be asking, "How am I supposed to lesson plan for that?"
My answer is "don't".
You can plan novel activities by just dropping the materials in the middle of the room and seeing where the kids take it. You can plan science activities by sitting in the middle of the exploration time and mixing ingredients to make different ooey gooey materials, and letting the kids play. You can plan writing activities by buying a movable alphabet, putting a word together, and letting the kids touch the letters and copy them once they're ready and willing to do so. You can plan art activities by throwing down some butcher paper and paint and saying "go for it!". You can plan a math activity by counting every child who is in attendance aloud with the children.
If you're really interested in doing what's best for the children in your care, you don't need any more proof that learning happened than the smiles on their faces, the messes on their clothes, and their willingness to do it all again the next day. No more schedules. No more worksheets. No more dedicated activities. No more group lectures and rules.
Let it go.
Our posts are created by several early childhood professionals. Most stories will include the author's name and a link to their "About Me" or the program they own or represent.