The first thing that I would advise you is to create a structure for your child. Let me tell you, structure to your day does NOT need to be boring.
In the classroom, children follow a routine to their day – the register, then phonics, English, break, Maths etc. This helps a child feel secure and stable in their environment. It is comforting to them to know that there is certainty and predictability in their lives.
Even with a routine you can be flexible – if your child is engrossed in an activity, don’t stop it, keep going and adapt your day. If they are interested in a particular topic that they have been learning at school then set up play activities based around their interests.
Children have the best concentration in the morning, so its best to introduce more challenging activities such as Literacy and Mathematics then, before tiredness sets in during the afternoon.
Austrian educator and psychiatrist Rudolf Dreikurs states:
“Routine to a child is what walls are to a house; it gives boundaries and dimensions to his life. An established routine also provides a sense of order from which freedom grows.”
At school, teachers use a visual timetable which has the structure of the day displayed. It is important that the timetable has pictures with words underneath.
The children, especially the younger ones will recognise the activity by the picture.
I am using a visual timetable at home so my toddler knows what is happening during the day.
You can create your own visual timetable by having a piece of card with Velcro on it or blu tack the back of the pictures. I have also drawn my own pictures. You could also print some timetable picture off from Twinkl.
The timetable is shown to my daughter at the beginning of the day and once we have finished an activity e.g. breakfast she places it in the finished box.
Your structure does not have to be the same every day and you can be flexible with it. E.g. If you have a Facetime call with a family member or friend at 10am then that’s fine swap things around or replace activities as long as the child can see it on the visual timetable in the morning.
Another benefit of a structure is that you can follow the same loose timetable, which your child will benefit from, as it is repetitive.
If you are starting a timetable for the first time with a 2 and a half year old, your timetable will not look like this.
Start gradually, introducing slightly more structure as time goes on. The Transition time can take a while with a toddler and a baby or if you are sharing childcare and transitioning between parents.
Not each activity will last that long and if I feel she has had enough, we just move on to the next activity. If your child is 4 then the activities could easily last longer or you may wish to include more activities. Don’t get me wrong, if your child is engrossed with their play then please don’t stop, carry on, and be flexible with your timing.
It’s a good idea to keep to the same structure each day as repetition is the key to learning for children at this stage. Research suggests that children need to hear a new word or concept between 15 – 20 times before they have learnt it. The activities, garden time and play change daily but everything else stays the same. Don’t change the sequence of the activities as it can be confusing for the child. Some of you might look at this and think that it’s boring, but I tell you it’s not. We have a wonderful time!
Let me explain.
Play – Within a structured day it is important to have some child initiated play where they choose exactly what they would like to play with. This encourages independence, perseverance and determination.
Garden – We put on our wellies and go out into the garden where a play activity will be set up.When making them, discuss the size and decide together where the ears, eyes and nose go.
Cosmic Yoga – is on YouTube Link and we do the same one for a week so that it can be learnt. If you have an older child, I would recommend doing the same one twice and then changing.
Reading time – We have a bag of 15 books. My daughter chooses which ones she would like me to read and we make sure we read a different one every day. I then change the books weekly so that she doesn’t get bored of the same books.
Mathematics – We watch a number song at the start and then do number games which are physical, fun and interactive.
Phonics – We watch Jolly Phonics Phase 2 songs, learn a new sound and then play phonics games.
Gross or fine motor skills – I choose an activity from the list and my daughter loves the gross motor skills.
Music – The music activity follows the same structure every day. I have chosen music because both girls love music. If your child doesn’t like music it could be physical – dancing, going on the scooter in the garden or on the trampoline. If your child likes construction you could build with lego or duplo, get out cardboard boxes, whatever they are interested in.
Activity – This will change according to my child’s interests. If we have set up a shop and she is enjoying it then I would stick with that for a few days. We might do art, colour work, puzzles, role play or sensory play.
In the afternoon we go for our daily walk down the local streets. As we have a whole day of playing, we don’t tidy up much as we go (otherwise we would be tidying all day long!) but have a massive tidy up before TV time! If your child is 4 or 5 I would expect them to tidy up as they go.