A typical day for a 3-year-old
9:00-9:20: Arrival, Unpack Belongings, Handwashing, Free Play
9:20-9:30: Gather, Discuss the Day
9:30-10:20: Art Projects, Free Play, Directed Activities
10:20-10:30: Cleanup, Bathroom, Handwashing
10:30-10:50: Snack, Conversation
10:55-11:10: Circle Time
11:15-11:50: Outdoor Play
12:00 Noon: Dismissal from the Classroom
If you were to watch a day unfold in any of our classrooms, you would see happy children enjoying the company of other children and engaging in a great deal of play. This play is the means through which children hone skills, build friendships, discover the world around them, and find out what interests them.
Play is a child’s work. However, it is not play without planning. The learning environment and the activities engaged in are all carefully planned by the teachers to teach specific skills. Parents are encouraged to ask questions of the teacher regarding the rationale for specific activities.
During arrival time, each child begins by putting away their backpack, snack box and jacket (to teach them how to take care of their own belongings) and then washing hands (to lessen the chance of bringing outside germs into the classroom).
The first part of the morning is spent in a combination of free play and one-on-one projects both of which are times for building skills and developing interest and friendships. The classroom is set up with the toys and the selected tabletop activities that reflect the teacher’s choices. Each teacher may add toys and books that complement the theme under study (e.g., a cardboard box made into a cave when studying hibernation). The tabletop activities, often manipulatives or a game, are designed to work on a specific skill (e.g., magnatiles to work on spatial relation skills).
The children engage in self-directed play in the classroom while individual children are called over to work on the project of the day with one of the teachers. Working one on one with the child allows the teacher the opportunity to observe and assess the child’s capabilities while also helping to build rapport between teacher and student.
At this age, children begin to develop true friendships rather than the parallel play exhibited during the 2-year-old-year. As a result there is a lot of emphasis on building social skills. Teachers model appropriate language (e.g., “Please may I have a turn with that toy? Yes, when I’m done I will give it to you.”) and work to make sure that all children are included in play. More reserved children are encouraged to participate in play with other children. In addition to developing social skills, children work on other skills by engaging in imaginative play, doing arts and crafts, playing at the sensory table, working with manipulatives, or playing with the various toys around the room.
Also during this time the class will have music once a week for 20 minutes in the classroom with Ms. Maribeth, and in the winter months, will have Jump Bunch in Phillips Hall for 20-25 minutes once a week. Jump Bunch is a gross motor movement class that develops balance, coordination and other physical skills.
Bathroom breaks are given as needed during the morning, but a planned break occurs just before snack so that the kids can use the bathroom and wash their hands. Snack time is an important time during which students work on fine motor skills while manipulating their snack boxes and the contents therein, as well as conversational skills. The students and teachers often use this as time to discuss what is happening with their families and in the larger world or to discuss the importance of healthy eating.
After snack the 3-year-old classes go out to the large playground where they may engage in playing with the extensive collection of ride-on toys or practice their basketball skills, play soccer, utilize the various climbing structures or dig in the sandbox. Playground time is the perfect opportunity for developing gross motor skills like running, catching, throwing, climbing steps, etc. After playground time children return to their classrooms often for a final period of reading in preparation for pick up time.
As you can see, the morning is a busy one.