Here are some of our tips for designing your toddler daycare schedule so you can ensure your students feel safe in a structured environment, while also improving their flexibility when new activities are thrown at them.
Toddlers thrive in repetitive situations, so divide up their schedule into various tasks. Little ones love knowing that after they have their breakfast cereal, they’ll then wash their hands before moving on to reading time and so on and so forth. Repeating this same structure day after day is actually essential to laying down critical pathways in the brain. Repeating the same actions over and over makes these connections become stronger over time, allowing children to become less anxious knowing what their next task will be.
Repetitive routines also help in the development of a child’s self-control, allowing them to understand that they have to wait until a particular time to do a certain activity. A repetitive toddler daycare schedule fosters responsibility and encourages independence, since a child will be able to perform the activities they have done many times before on their own.
In between your scheduled activities, it is wise to build in time for transitions. For example, you’ll want to create a pre-meal ritual (wash hands, set table) and a pre-nap ritual (read a quiet story before lying down). This will allow them to associate certain tasks with the activity they are about to participate in. You can further prepare toddlers for these transition times by consistently reminding them what’s coming next. For example, reminders such as, “10 minutes left before nap time” will help children know what to expect and start getting ready.
Though a strict toddler daycare schedule can be comforting for a child, you do not want to make him or her so dependent on their predicable schedule that disaster strikes every time there is a last-minute change. You can teach toddlers to be more adaptable by making small changes that shake up your routine every once in a while. Simple things like changing the books he or she reads before nap time, or eating lunch outdoors some days instead of inside will add enough variety to everyday schedules. This can benefit toddlers by making them more resilient to change when they are older.
You can also add variety to your toddler daycare schedule by varying the teacher or supervisor for various tasks throughout the day. If a certain staff member is always helping a child get to sleep during nap time, what will happen if they are absent one day? By rotating teachers throughout different tasks, you’ll be helping the child understand that he can count on others to also help him meet his needs.
For more help with setting your toddler daycare schedule, take a look at HiMama’s daycare schedule templates to plan your lessons, meals, activities and more!
What are some of the things you should keep in mind when designing a daycare schedule? Join the conversation at @HiMamaSocial and make sure to sign up for updates from our HiMama Blog for updates on similar content in the future!