Blending Daycare and Preschool
I'm often asked how a home daycare can accommodate the needs of the various ages of children. The following is what has worked at Kid's Corner Child Care & Preschool.
1. “Snip-its”: I've learned that everything is best done in snip-its. In my daycare, we will gather for some circle time activities, and then take a quick break while I get things ready for our next activity. I’ll call the kids back for movement and songs. Quick break. Another learning gathering. Snack break. Craft time. Bathroom/diaper time break. Reading, Science, Math etc. Break. Enrichment games. Break. Etc, etc.
2. The above works well for Kid’s Corner. It allows the kids social play time in between times of having to focus, sit still and listen. It also allows me time to pick up in between activities.
3. We change it up now and then. Some days rather than beginning our day with circle time activities, we’ll start the day with craft time and work backwards through the materials I've lined up for the day.
4. Babies are part of preschool in my daycare. When they’re really small, they sit in the bouncy seat or exersaucer. Sometimes they will be crawling around the playroom while we do activities or I’ll hold them as I read to the group. Regardless of what the babies are doing, they are still part of preschool and hear and see everything we do!
5. Most of the kids up to age two aren't interested in all of our activities. I've had kids at 20 months become very involved and some who weren't. When they’re ready, great! I always encourage children this age to join in but if they would rather play quietly while I’m engaging the others, then so be it.
6. I've found that snack time is the perfect opportunity for story time. Everyone is at the table, eating quietly and listening.
7. I always give the babies and young toddlers attention in between activities or after preschool learning is done. There are many preschool activities that can also be directed while playing with the younger ones on the floor. Ex: colors and shapes with block building, sorting objects, felt board enrichment and puzzles, to name a few.
8. Placing a gate between the craft room and playroom during craft time, allowing the older kids to focus without the toddler distractions, works nicely.
9. Structured preschool is offered 4 days a week. The fifth day is play day, catch-up on things we didn't get done during the week and planning day for the following week.
10. I like to stay relaxed and take advantage of the many learning opportunities that arise.