I often get emails asking about my kindergarten daily schedule. For the longest time, I couldn’t imagine how it would be helpful to other teachers. However, I recently asked my Facebook followers about their own schedules and realized just how crucial it is for teachers, especially those new to teaching kindergarten or transitioning to a full-day schedule. The responses I received were so varied, it really hit home how useful it might be to share my own example of a typical kindergarten daily schedule. I have so much respect for the teachers who juggle everything our little ones need to learn in just a half-day schedule. It’s no easy feat and they deserve major kudos for their hard work. Even with a full-day schedule, it’s still a big challenge to make sure everything gets done.
Kindergarten Daily Schedules
It can be tough to schedule everything when you have 26 classrooms and just one instructor for PE, Art, and Music at a school. Odds are, your schedule won’t be perfect. I really feel for the scheduling team who have to figure it all out. But, it’s important to remember that you can’t always get everything you want and need to prioritize what’s important. If you get the chance to put in your preferences for scheduling, be sure to think carefully about what matters most to you. For me, the two most important things are having ELA and Math taught before lunchtime without interruptions and having a special activity each day.
As for my number one request, I will give up almost anything as long as I can have that time at the same time every morning to give the most important instruction of the day. That consistency is so important, and anyone that has taught kindergarten knows, after lunch . . . you lose them. They’re tired. So the best time for that instruction happens before they fill their bellies.
Last year’s Daily Schedule (seen above) was about as perfect as it could get. This coming fall . . . my lunch falls about half an hour too early and I’m concerned, but I will tackle that mountain when I get to it in August. And as for specials, I have one every day but one. It’s been a long time since that wish list item has been filled, but having four out of five days with one . . . I’ll take it.
To make things a bit clearer, let me tell you about all the different items that make up a typical day in my kindergarten class.
Our mornings start with Morning Work Tubs. I know that many people have different ideas about morning work and what ‘works’ for them. For me, Morning Work Tubs are specially designed to engage students in fine motor activities that address essential skills. Because we serve breakfast in our classroom, these Morning Work Tubs are a great way to keep all students active and get their brains primed for learning, while I have time to do all the things that teachers have to do at the beginning of the day.
If you’d like to learn more about how I organize Morning Work and what activities I include, check out my blog post HERE or by clicking on the picture below.
In most classrooms, this routine is pretty much the same, I’m sure. After completing Morning Work, we typically listen to announcements and take a short break for movement activities. this could involve a fun GoNoodle session or a quick game depending on the time available before I start my whole group ELA instruction.
Whole Group ELA/Heggerty
During a typical week, this will be the time that I introduce our new phonics skill, heart word, and word family, and complete our Heggerty activities. While it takes a few weeks to build of the routines for the instruction that goes on during this time, once we are up and running, it goes by quickly with students engaged and working. Students learn the Heggerty motions quite quickly and mapping heart words becomes familiar and students are successful in managing the tools we use to do it together.
The time directly after Whole Group ELA is used for practicing those skills we are learning. We do this during Literacy Stations. Literacy Stations consist of 6 stations that students rotate through. They go to three of those six stations the first day and the second of those three stations the next. Each station period lasts about 20 minutes. It is also during this time that work with students in small groups. Students who do not work with me are working at independent stations.
By now, students need drinks and a bathroom break, so I offer a movement and music break while those tasks can be taken care of and I can set up for Calendar Math/ Whole Group Math Instruction.
Whole Group Math
Whole group math is a time to introduce new skills and practice skills as a whole group. Just like with whole group literacy, this time needs to be interactive. Learning math skills together thru multisensory activities that incorporate us moving our bodies, chanting, tracing, listening, and moving manipulatives.
Depending on the time of year, it can take me either 5 or 15 minutes to get them ready for lunch. Snow pants are the devil and during those first few weeks of snow season, dressing for the weather can really eat into my instructional time. We work very hard and quickly to get those skills of dressing for winter mastered.
After lunch, I have just enough time on days that we have specials, to complete a read-aloud and ‘knowledge’ lesson. This is when we are focusing on our literacy skills such as vocabulary, comprehension, and making connections with books.
Art, music, and PE are all scheduled at the same time each day that I have them. I do kind of love that. It wasn’t that way the first several years that I taught kindergarten and it made it difficult for students to get used to a daily schedule. When I can have activities consistent every day, students tend to adjust to kindergarten easier.
Yes! We rest in kindergarten. Do you know that even in the last week of kindergarten, I had students (as in more than one) falling asleep during our rest time? Little bodies that have so many demands to learn during a day will need this time to stop their bodies even if for a few moments. Usually, I put on an educational video for them to watch. That being said, if they aren’t tired and don’t want to rest, they always have the option to read or write quietly. I also use this time for me to read with students (We do book bags with decodable readers that are sent home each night.), assess and monitor skills. This is my public acknowledgment that there is too much assessment in kindergarten. That being said, if I do not use this time to do it, it will never get completed.
A lot of our social studies and science curriculum is included in our Knowledge/Read Aloud time. But I also use this time for additional instruction in these areas and our SEL – Friendzy curriculum. These are short lessons that fit nicely into this time period before snack and recess time.
Snack and Pack
Students take turns bringing snack in for the class. If a child can not provide snack, I always make sure I have extra snacks for days that someone forgets. They also use this time to pack up an items from the day into their folders and pack them away into their backpacks before heading outside for recess.
Almost 20 minutes for me to breath, answer emails, sit down and, most importantly, head to the bathroom.
Math Stations or Learning Centers
Because students are spent by this time of the day, I reserve this time for things I know they will enjoy and will feel like play. Math stations are the time of day when students get to practice what they know by doing. It’s all about games and hands-on learning. Students LOVE it, and I love that they think it’s play.
Learning centers is exploratory play. Student work with STEM items, art materials, sensory bins and spend time in dramatic play. It’s what kindergarten used to be and what we need more of today, but the important social aspects of kindergarten that we never seen to have time for any more.
Finally, it’s time for dismissal. Students are tagged with their appropriate ‘how we get home’ tag at the beginning of the year because there is no greater fear those first several weeks of school than sending a kindergartner home the wrong way.
And finally, when they are all gone, you clean up. Gather items you need for the next day. Take a deep breath and go home to ready yourself for another day . . . tomorrow.