Day care centers usually serve children of many ages, from infants up to kindergarten age. While the day cares may vary in type and teaching philosophies, centers share many day to day activities.
? The transition from home to school is an important marker for the day. Parents should drop the child off in a matter-of-fact manner. If the child becomes upset, leaving quickly works best to prevent an escalating emotional scene.
? Having a morning meal at the center gives children the chance to settle in for the day at their own pace. Adults should sit at the table to help open packages and eat a small snack with the group to model table manners.
Children participate in self-initiated activities in learning centers. The most common example is a kitchen area with a toy stove and cooking utensils, a dramatic play area with costumes and hats, and a library for quiet individual activity. Other examples are an art center and a math/science center with a manipulative table and measuring cups.
This activity is usually teacher directed. Activities may include reading a book on the week’s theme that will be followed by children participating in a related project. If the theme is the water and the sea, children may paint on paper shaped like boats and play with toy boats and plastic sea creatures at the water-filled manipulative table.
Children are usually scheduled to play outdoors a few times every day. Teachers help children dress appropriately and provide toys suited for their developmental level--plastic riding toys for toddlers, tricycles and bicycles for older children are standard.
? Before Lunch After playing outdoors, caregivers help children put away jackets or hats, complete toileting activities and wash their hands to prepare for lunch.
? Lunch When lunches are catered, children are encouraged to serve themselves while the caregiver holds the serving bowl or milk pitcher. Children chose the foods they want to eat and adults never force children to clean their plates. When parents provide lunch, caregivers heat or unwrap food and sit with the group conversing.
? Naps All age groups need a nap by midday. Children may rest on cribs, cots, or mats, depending on their age. Children ideally will sleep. Any children who are unable to sleep may participate in a quiet activity, such as coloring or reading.
? Afternoon Children usually have an afternoon snack right after they wake up. Afterward, they play in activity centers. Caregivers circulate among the different groups to talk to children at play. Caregivers might initiate creative movement activities and set up tactile experiences on the manipulative table.
? Outdoor Playtime Children need to go outdoors in the late afternoon because they have been inside for most of the day. Bring bubbles that children can chase and chalk for art on paved areas. Parents may begin picking up children.
? Closing Children enjoy helping adults clean up, and doing so builds independence. While you are cleaning and disinfecting, provide children with child-sized broom and dust pans that allow them to contribute to keeping their classroom clean.