Welcome to the Starting Homeschool Preschool Series. This is post #4.
1.Peaceful Days with a Child-Led Homeschool Preschool
2.Is Project-Based Preschool For You?
3. A Typical Day in Our Child-Led Homeschool Preschool
4. How to Set the Perfect Preschool Routine at Home
Routines. They can be nearly impossible to keep when you have littles running around. They’re always changing, and so does your routine.
When I first started teaching Sicily at home with Tot School, I spent weeks searching for daily schedules and routines on Pinterest. And I tried almost every single one of them with no luck.
Related: Creating the Perfect Tot School Schedule
That’s when I realized that there is no one size fits all routine for every family. It hit me like a brick falling from the sky…if my approach to teaching Sicily is child-led why shouldn’t our routine follow her lead as well.
Every family is different…every child is different…and just how every child learns in a different way, their natural rhythms are all different.
I’m going to share with you my process of setting up a routine that is unique to your family and child. A routine that is going to be perfect for your child and no one else.
Preschool Routine Step 1
The first step is to observe. Now if you’re like me and have more than one child, you want to create a preschool routine around the youngest because they are less adaptable. I know a baby and toddler’s natural rhythm are always changing, and you’ll always be changing your routine too. But with my method, the changes are usually little and will always be meeting your kiddos’ needs.
Related: A Typical Day in Our Child-Led Homeschool Preschool
Spend a week observing your child in a no pressure environment. That means no structured activities or lessons. Just free play all week. Trust me your little is still learning even when you don’t have anything planned, so no worries there.
During the week, write down your child’s active times, tired times, and focused times. By active, I mean lots of energy. And by focused, I mean focusing on an activity. This could be 5 minutes or it could be an hour. It depends on your child’s attention span. 5 minutes of focused play counts as focused time.
Preschool Routine Step 2
By the end of the week, you should start to see a pattern. All the focused, active, and tired times should be close to the same time every day.
Now it’s time to create your unique preschool routine.
Active times become outside and gross motor times. I also try to schedule any active programs like gymnastics during this time.
Tired times will become meals and nap.
And the focused times will become your learning time. For preschool, this could be your morning meeting and learning games. You want to do these more structured activities during your child’s most focused time.
The rest of the day is unstructured free play. This is where I set up invitations to explore and create where they don’t need my help.
Unstructured free play takes up the majority of our day, usually about 2-3 hours. This is to accommodate for Montessori’s false fatigue, which states a child goes through a period of about 45 minutes where they bounce around. After that 45 minutes, they usually settle on an activity where true learning and concentration happens. This is why Montessori suggests a 3 hour work period.
When setting up your schedule, try to keep the times very loose. You want to create a routine, not a structured schedule. If your child is really focused on an activity, you don’t want to interrupt them to go outside. Wait for natural breaks in their concentration before moving onto the next activity in your routine.
Preschool Routine Step 3
The last step is to test and tweak. Try out your new preschool routine for a minimum of 2 weeks before making changes. Everyone needs time to adjust before you know if it’s working on not.
You also want to tweak your routine whenever your little’s natural rhythm changes. You’ll be able to notice any changes rather quickly.
In our house, Kade is starting to take shorter morning naps and will soon be giving them up. I’ll have to readjust a bit to figure out how I’ll fit in Sicily’s structured preschool time without having Kade constantly interrupting us. Littles are always changing and so should your routine if you want to keep peaceful days.
How This Works With Multiple Kiddos
As I mentioned in the first step, you want to create your preschool routine around the youngest child because they are less adaptable.
Once you have the youngest child’s routine set then you can work in the other children. Right now Kade takes a morning nap, so I schedule Sicily’s structured learning activities during this time.
If you know your youngest needs more attention at 10:00 am then you can schedule independent time for your oldest during that time or an activity for you to do together.
There will be things that come up that require you to change the schedule. If you know about these changes ahead of time, prepare your little one. Kids need to know the basic layout of their day. So preparing them for any changes will minimize the chance of tantrums and resistance. A few simple reminders will help with this.
I like to use a daily picture schedule to show Sicily how our day will go. We review it every morning and we talk about any changes. Then I make sure I am giving her little warnings before any changes happen. I do this on a normal day as well.
I start by giving her a 10 minute warning by saying “In 10 minutes we’re going to clean up and go…” I do the same thing at 5 minutes and 1 minute.The first few times you do this, you may get some resistance. But the more consistent you are, the better your child will get at transitioning.
Having a routine is important, especially for littles. A routine helps them know what to expect throughout the day which caters into peaceful days. But a routine doesn’t have to be strict. As long as the daily rhythm is the same, your child will feel more comfortable throughout the day. A child who is comfortable and knows what to expect during the day has less tantrums and is more peaceful.