One of the most asked questions when families come for a tour is, “What does a normal day in your classroom look like?” This is a very good question, but one that can really only be touched upon in a quick conversation. I’ve decided that it might be helpful for both current families and those interested in our program if I spend some time introducing our daily routines in a more illustrated manner. So, let us begin at the beginning.
Each morning starts with the arrival of our students. As parents, you are familiar with this portion of your child’s day. The children arrive with Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, or beloved friend in tow. After a hug and a kiss at the door and checking themselves “in” to school, they glide, jump, shuffle (depending on the level of energy so early in the morning) over to the cubbies to hang up their coats and backpacks.
Once their things are safely packed away, each child meets with a teacher to read the Morning Message. This message greets the class, tells them which special classes they will be visiting during the day, and asks them a question. Our question usually relates to the current topic of study or a skill we are focusing on. Sometimes, it is just designed to help us get to know our students better.
Now that they have completed their morning tasks, the children are free to choose to play in any open center. This part of the day is invaluable for the teachers. While the children are moving around, playing with others, and interacting with the environment, the teachers are circulating within the groups. We use this time to observe how our class is getting along, what their interests are, and how individual children are faring with the materials. We watch for moments when we can pose a question to provoke deeper thinking within the play. The social strengths and areas for improvement are noted for later discussion during Morning Meeting.
The children also benefit greatly from this time of choice. Through an opportunity to freely choose the materials they wish to play with, they engage in practice with well-loved activities or feel safe to explore something new. This time of the day is one of the best for practicing many important social skills such as sharing toys, taking turns, listening to a friend, and sharing the creation of a story. Children can choose to play alone or with others and practice positively asserting their needs for both. Many children use this time to reenact important themes that are running through their minds. We have scary ghosts and happy princesses. We see animal families and new babies arriving regularly. Story ideas come from books they have read, television shows they have watched, and stories (both real and fantasy) that they have heard in and out of school.
Around 9:00, we begin to transition to a new activity. After hearing the ringing of our chime, the children know to stand still and listen for directions. Together, they begin to clean up the area where they are playing. When their space is tidy, they know that it is helpful to look at the other centers to see if they need help, as well. Finally, when all is put away, each child finds a spot on the carpet so that we can begin Morning Meeting.