The Best Daily Kindergarten Schedule
One of the most common questions I get from new kindergarten teachers is about the daily kindergarten schedule. A daily schedule for kindergarten students can look different from room to room within the same elementary school. In other words, there are many ways you can structure your school day with the young children.
Things to Consider When Planning a Kindergarten Schedule
Here are the most important factors, I believe, will effect your daily schedule in kindergarten. If you can think of other factors, please leave a comment at the end of this blog post to help others.
- Is it full-day kindergarten?
- Is it half day kindergarten?
- Are there special needs and IEP’s you will need to consider?
- What are the bell schedules?
- Will you be doing primarily small groups?
- How many kids are in the class?
- Is free play allowed?
- Allowing transition time
- Will there be rest time?
- Your school district’s curriculum map
- Arrival and dismissal procedures
- What specials will your kids attend? (i.e. library, art, PE, music, computers)
Sample of a Full Day Kindergarten Schedule
This is an example of my full-day kindergarten schedule. We had a very long school day, and often found the kids had a hard time getting through the days. I highly recommend kindergarten students be dismissed around 2:30 – 3:00. Longer than that often leads to high behavior problems.
Students begin arriving at school. Some kids trickle to the cafeteria for the school’s breakfast program, while other kids would line up in the hall and talk quietly.
9:00-9:20 Morning Work and Attendance
Before greeting all of the students, I would choose a kid who was doing a good job in line to be the Question of the Day helper. I would send him/her into the room to wait by the Question of the Day display. More on that in a minute…
Stand by the door to welcome each kid into the classroom.
As they come into the room, they hang up their bookbags, put their take-home folder in the assigned container, put their lunch boxes in the bin or put their name card under the buying section, then they go to the Question of the Day area.
When they get to the question of the day area, the chosen helper reads the question of the day to them, and they put their name card under the yes or no column. You can read more about the Question of the Day, HERE.
Next, they go to their tables for morning work. Morning work may consist of a simple task, such as writing their name, then they are free to play with the manipulatives or toys that are on their tables. (I quickly put a tub at each table before arrival)
While they are playing, I take attendance. I’ve done this several ways over the years. Scanning the room, a cute attendance board, and role call to practice listening and response skills.
9:20- Clean up and Transition to Carpet
I use transition songs to reinforce cleaning up quickly, and coming to the carpet quietly.
9:25 – 9:50 Morning Meeting
During morning meeting, we cover calendar, weather, reviewing Question of the Day, morning message, counting the days of school, and music/movement. We also briefly go over the daily schedule cards and special of the day. I found a visual schedule to work best in a kindergarten classroom.
9:50-10:00 Bathroom Break
Even if there is a bathroom in the classroom, it’s sometimes nice to take the whole class at once. That way, there will be less bathroom interruptions while you are teaching important lessons. The amount of time you spend in the bathroom will be greater at the beginning of the year. Teaching the kids how to wait in line and take turns using the restroom requires a lot of patience. But, I promise it gets better as the year goes on.
10:10-11:15 Language Arts and Literacy Centers
The daily routine for the ELA block includes whole group mini lessons, story time, shared reading, and the poem of the day, followed by language arts centers. How much time you spend on learning centers will vary. To be honest, there were days when the young kids could only handle a little time together, and others when they allowed me ample opportunities to keep them engaged in literacy centers.
On a typical day, the literacy centers would include Making Words or word work, write the room, a free choice writing center, practice with sight words, Build a Poems in the pocket chart (this was a class favorite every year), and guided reading groups.
12:00-12:50 Lunch and Recess
After specials, we quickly get back to the classroom to grab lunch boxes and coats if needed for recess. If it’s indoor recess, we don’t waste time getting coats on and zipped. If you need ideas for indoor recess, check out my post “35 Ideas for Indoor Recess”
12:50-1:00 Bathroom Break
To assure every kid uses the restroom and washes their hands after playing on the playground, I prefer to take another whole class bathroom break.
1:00-1:10 Quiet Time
During this time, I like to create an environment that helps the kids refocus after recess. They often want to come inside and tattle on everyone and everything, and they are all worked up. Playing quiet meditation music, or reading aloud a chapter of their favorite chapter books, while they sit at their tables with their head down is a great way to cool down.
During this time, I also call a table over to the counting jar. They quietly write their estimated number on the post-it (telling me how many objects they think are in the jar), then return to their seat. By Friday, all tables have been called, and we unpack the counting jar. You can read more about the counting jar on my post “20 Basics of a Kindergarten Classroom.”
1:10- 1:20 Daily Math Talks
Doing a daily math talk was the perfect way to transition the kids into their daily math lessons. This is a time where the kids are not pressured to get things “right”, but are encouraged to participate and share their thinking surrounding a math topic. Watch the video below to see what others are saying about the Daily Math Talks I have created for the entire school year.
After getting the kids talking and increasing engagement with math talks, we begin our formal math block. This block has a similar structure as the literacy block. For example, we begin with a math mini-lesson as a whole group. Then, the kids transition to math centers, or math stations. Our math centers typically consist of play time with manipulatives. During their play, they often use the manipulatives in a way that reflects the mini-lesson just taught.
Other centers include practicing matching numerals to sets of objects, task cards and recording sheets, tens-frame work, number line activities, and 100’s chart activities.
2:20-2:30 Brain Break
Brain breaks are integrated throughout the entire day, but this a structured time devoted to movement and music. With five year olds, and elementary students, it’s especially important to keep their brains active.
2:30-3:00 Social Studies and/or Science
On an given day, this block would consist of social studies or science activities. It also felt as though all special events, or school assemblies, would be held during this time.
3:00-3:40 Free Choice Play Time
Because we had an extremely long school day (too long if you ask me), it was important to let the kids have time to just play. No hidden agendas, no organized rotations, just let them choose what they wanted to play with. At the start of the year, play time does have to be structured to eliminated age-appropriate meltdowns over who plays with what. However, as the year went on, free choice time runs on it’s own. The kids no longer have a hard time getting along. If they see an area looks full, they learned to find something else to do. There were days, however, that I would have to use a classroom management technique to rotate the kids to other areas.
This time was also a great time for me to pull the kids for one-on-one assessments, fill out daily behavior folders, and sometimes prepare for the following day.
3:40-3:55 Prepare for Dismissal
Clean up, gather book bags, pass out any school papers and folders, and make sure everyone is ready to go home for the day – on a happy note.
This is the time when kids begin getting called for dismissal. The car riders are called to the cafeteria. Bus riders are called to the gymnasium where they wait in a sitting line based on bus numbers. The goal was to have all of the kids loaded onto the busses by 4:20. Some days it worked great, while others not so much.
Before you go, here are blog posts mentioned above:
18 Transition Songs for the Classroom
185 Questions of the Day for Kids
115 Top picks for Poem of the Day
20 Basics of a Kindergarten Classroom