Kindergarten Daily Programmes

"A good day for the five-year olds is one filled with opportunity for constructive, creative work with materials, people, numbers, words, music; a relaxed, unhurried day with rest and activity well balanced; a day in which the periods may be shortened or lengthened as the need arises; a day in which each child feels that he is a dynamic part of every activity -- a day which looks forward to the next day."1

No rigid generalizations may be made in regard to Kindergarten programmes, as these will of necessity vary with local conditions and environmental factors.  All Kindergartens, however, will have two sessions, the morning session having a minimum duration of two and one-half hours and the afternoon session a minimum of two hours, each session providing for separate groups of children.   In each session it is important to cover all phases of those experiences which will afford optimal development.

While a good Kindergarten programme should be flexible enough to allow the children time for their activities and unaided, unhurried performance of their tasks, it is necessary to have a skeleton timetable around which the day’s activities are planned.  Certain routine periods such as daily health inspection, toileting, lunch and rest should come at approximately the same time every day.  The amount of time given to carious activities may vary from day to day, but a well-balanced programme should include morning inspection and housekeeping, free play indoors or out according to the weather, a work period which may be combined with or grow out of the play period, group discussion and language, opportunity to look at books and listen to stories, both singing and rhythmic expression in music, toileting, and a lunch and rest period.

As occasion arises, excursions may be made, social and natural sciences investigated, participation in activities hindering the school as a whole, and special appointments with the school nurse, doctor and dentist arranged.  All these situations involve temporary disregard of the skeleton timetable, but will aid the children to comprehend the natural functioning of everyday living.

Five-year-old children are usually eager to do things for themselves and to be independent.  This sense of responsibility should be stimulated and time allowed for it on the programme.  The teacher should not do things which the children want to do and can so for themselves, just to save time or trouble.  This discourages self-reliance and initiative and deprives the children of opportunities to learn.  The ability to do things independently aids the child’s sense of security, which is essential to his normal happy development.  Time should be found within the programme for the teacher to give attention to children in need of it.

The content of the programme is centred upon the children’s immediate environment, and is based upon their experiences in and out of school as individuals and as in groups.  It is not formally divided into subject fields, but provided sufficient variety to allow for physical activity, self-expression, learning of new skills and facts, practice in co-operation and harmonious living with others, self-adjustment to new situations, development of meaningful, accurate use of language, preparation for reading, development of number-concepts, and understanding of natural and social sciences.

In planning programmes for Kindergartens it is important to remember that almost all, if not all, the children are coming to school and joining an organized group for the first time.  Hitherto, these children have been use to space and freedom, the freedom of the home and its environment, freedom to talk and to move about at will, freedom to investigate and to observe, freedom to be active in mind and body.  The daily programme should maintain this freedom and provide opportunity for development of large muscles, and give long periods of outdoor play.  Children should be allowed to move about the room freely, and should be given occasion to explore the possibilities of various activities through which they can express themselves -- e.g., painting, drawing, constructing, dramatic play, music and language.

Little children naturally talk and sing while they are actively employed.  They are experimenting with their voices, using their imaginations, and putting meaning into their activities.  Whenever possible, they should be allowed and encourage to use their voices, and the programme should not require undue curtailment of this form of expression.  Learning to control their voices and to consider the needs of others are equally as valuable as learning to exercise their vocal organs.  The programme should be drawn up with an awareness of this in mind.

Morning Programmes

Example I

9.00 – 10.00 Opening period -- group discussion, individual and group activities.
10.00 – 10.20 Toileting, lunch.
10.20 – 10.35 Rest.
10.35 – 11.00 Stories, speech, music, rhythmics.

Example II

8.45 – 9.15 Room open for individual arrival, greetings, health inspection and housekeeping.
9.15 – 9.45Self-chosen activities; woodwork, painting, drawing, modeling, block-building, etc.
9.45 - 10.00 Group discussion, examination and criticism of work, further plans for work, speech corrections.
10.00 – 10.10Clean-up.
10.10 – 10.35 Toileting, preparing for and having morning refreshment. Children serve themselves with milk and converse while sitting at the table. Habits of courtesy observed.
10.35 – 10.50 Preparation for rest and rest period. Children procure own mats, lie relaxed for fifteen minutes, then return mats to cupboard.
10.50 – 11.05 Music; songs, rhythmics.
11.05 – 11.20Literature; stories and poems, discussion: science.
11.20 – 11.40Free play; outdoors if possible.
11.40 – 11.50Preparation for dismissal.

Example III

8.45 – 9.10 Room open for individual arrival, greetings, health inspection, housekeeping and free play.
*9.10 – 9.20 Assembly for news and planning.
*9.50 – 10.10 Discussion and cleanup.
10.10 – 10.50 Toileting, lunch, rest.
10.50 – 11.05 Story, dramatization, science, discussion.
11.05 – 11.20 Songs, rhythmic activities.
11.20 – 11.50 Outdoor play.
11.50 – 12.00 Dismissal.
*These periods may be taken out of doors when weather permits.

Example IV

8.50 – 9.35Room open for individual arrival, greetings, health inspection, housekeeping and play period.
9.35 – 9.45 Discussion, evaluation, planning.
9.45 – 9.55 Clean-up play material.
9.55 – 10.10 Action-song, game, music, rhythmics.
10.10 – 10.20 Toileting.
10.20 – 10.45 Lunch, rest.
10.45 – 11.30 Integrated period indoors or out¾social studies, science, speech.

The flexibility of the programme should be such that it allows for interruptions and takes advantage of every learning situation that arises unexpectedly.  Seasonal adjustments, sudden interests, emergencies, special occasions should all be catered to and integrated into the over-all programme.

In planning the child’s day it is essential to maintain an atmosphere in which the emotional life of the child is satisfying and stable.  The teacher seeks to do this

Balance and variety in the daily programme and in the yearly programme are important if the development of the children is to progress satisfactorily.  Much time may be spent on an activity one day and compensation achieved by relatively little time being devoted to the same activity on the following day.  Similar flexibility may be applied to longer periods of time¾several days, weeks¾if the interests of the moment demand it.  In the daily programme, periods of activity should be followed by periods of relaxation, and physical exertion alternated with mental activity.  Planning and evaluation are important in order that a wise balance is kept and continuous progress achieved.

The following examples of typical, well-balanced programmes are given as a guide to teachers when making their own programmes.  In the kindergarten it is of the utmost importance not to be bound to a timetable of minutes.  It is useful to see how large blocks of time which form the basis of the programme may be subdivided to include all aspects of the programme content in one session.  Time allotments will, of necessity, vary according to the school hours of each particular school.

Afternoon Programmes

The content for the afternoon programme is generally the same as the morning.  Some teachers may wish to start the afternoon programme at 12.30 to help to equalize the length of the sessions.

Since children attend Kindergarten for a half-day only, either on the morning or in the afternoon, it is essential to have a health check at the beginning of each session.

It is equally important that all phases of the work be covered each session, morning and afternoon, in so far as possible.

So that all children may share equally the advantages of the morning Kindergarten, the meeting time of the two groups may be interchanged at the end of January.

Example V

12.30 – 1.15 Arrival, greetings, health inspection, housekeeping, play period.
1.15 – 1.25
Discussion, evaluation, planning.
1.25 – 1.35
Clean-up play material.
1.35 – 1.50
Action-song, game, music, rhythmics.
1.50 – 2.05
Language, stories
2.05 – 2.30
Toileting, lunch, rest.
2.30 – 3.15
Integrated period indoors or outdoors¾social studies, science, speech.

Example VI

12.45 – 1.40
Self-chosen activity in indoor or outdoor play areas.
1.40 – 1.55
Discussion and clean-up.
1.55 – 2.15
Music; singing and rhythm.
2.15 – 2.40
Toileting, lunch, rest.
2.40 – 3.00
Story-time, or play out of doors.

1Association for Childhood Education, Bulletin, Four-and-Five-Year-Olds at School ( 1291 – 16th St, N.W., Washington, D.C.$0.35)

Source: British Columbia. Department of Education. Division of Curriculum. Programme of Studies for the Elementary Schools of British Columbia. Kindergarten Manual. Victoria, B.C. 1948.

Transcribed by Emily Stephen, History 349, Malaspina University-College, March 2002

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