Changing Times

We have a written schedule that provides a very basic outline of our day. Essentially the schedule is just a chronological list of the events of the day.  It looks something like this;

  • Arrival
  • Free Play
  • AM snack
  • Circle/Calendar/Planned Activity
  • Outdoor Time
  • Lunch
  • Nap/Quiet time
  • Free Play (short)
  • PM Snack
  • Free Play
  • Home Time

The posted schedule does list actual times for each event but these are just a formality.  In reality the timing is very flexible.  For example, outdoor time is scheduled for two hours from 9:30 – 11:30 am but it can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as 4 hours if we move other events like circle and meals outdoors too.

It is the order of the events that remains consistent. Times are adjusted as needed to accommodate individual schedules, moods and interests.

Naptime probably has the biggest influence on the timing of our schedule because during naptime the cots and playpens are set up in the playroom – so there is no ‘free play’ room.  During naptime activities are limited to the sunroom – crafts, board games, puzzles, books and some small toys — quiet activities.

Currently, the baby’s nap is affecting our schedule.  You see, he simply cannot stay awake until the scheduled afternoon nap time.  He can sometimes be persuaded to have a short morning nap in the stroller while we are outdoors – but then he doesn’t want his real nap until after 2 pm and he will sleep until 4:30.

That means ‘naptime/quiet time’ has been extended from 1:00 to 4:30 as various children sleep at different times. It means that for nearly half the day there can be no free play in the playroom which is normally considered the main play space. It means that the baby is in the sunroom for part of quiet time – the sunroom is intended as a place where older children can use small stuff independently without interference.

It is not a good schedule.

Now, since the baby doesn’t really need two naps – and sometimes even argues about having that morning nap – the simple answer seems to be to just skip the morning nap.  The problem then is that he ‘crashes’ before lunch and he wakes to eat at 1:30 pm.  Essentially this results in the same issues as the late nap but at a different time.  The playroom is off limits due to naptime from 11:30 to 3:00 and I have a bored baby awake in the sunroom while the others nap.

So last week I tried something different.  I moved naptime ahead one hour so the preschoolers nap from noon to 2:00pm.  It means we have lunch early – something that is possible because this year I don’t have any school-age children returning here for lunch from 12:15-12:45pm.

I changed something else too.  For the first time ever, I made a change to the order of the events in our schedule. Now it looks like this;

  • Arrival
  • Free Play
  • AM snack
  • Circle/Calendar/Planned Activity
  • Free Play (short)
  • Lunch
  • Nap/Quiet time
  • Outdoor Time
  • PM Snack
  • Free Play
  • Home Time

All the children nap at approximately the same time again.  Outdoor time is now scheduled for after naptime and the two preschoolers who attend ½ day school programs in the morning are now able to engage in some active outdoor play in the afternoons instead of only quiet time activities.

It seems to be working well.  Even on Friday when there was a school inservice day and all the children were here for the full day this new schedule worked.  I don’t intend for this to be a permanent change.  I’m certain that by Spring/Summer we’ll want to be outdoors all morning again.  For winter though, an early lunch and naptime and an outdoor time that takes advantage of warmer afternoon temperatures may just be the perfect solution.

What do you think?

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