Colleagues on the Independent Childminders Facebook group have asked me to share how we plan our daily routines in our childminding provision. We are 2 childminders who work together and on a typical day we have 3 or 4 little ones and 2 older children before and after school. All our children are part-time and we repeat activities depending on the days they attend.
We aim to be flexible – we want to use children’s interests and fascinations to support their learning and we want to go outside if it snows or pop to the shops for ingredients if a child says they want to make buns – we do not want to be constrained by a routine which shackles us to doing certain things at pre-determined times.
For this reason, our daily routine is loose… we usually have 2 breakfasts: 1 for the school children and 1 for the little ones after the school run; we have small morning snack wherever we happen to be around 10.30 – 11 am; we plan lunch for around 12.30 – 1 pm depending on what everyone is doing. The only mealtime that is set is tea which we all sit down to eat at 4.45 pm and we ask parents to allow us 30 minutes to eat before disturbing us (they can collect before or after that time).
This is how we explain our routine – or what we call ‘the rhythm of our day’ - to parents.
Dear parents, this is your child's normal daily routine – the rhythm of their days when they are with us. Our routines are flexible and will change depending on the time of year (holiday week routines are quite different) and depending on each child's individual needs...
On arrival – my coat, shoes and bag go on my shelf (see if I can find my own shelf using my name card and photo), I have a cuddle and say ‘good morning’ to my friends. Sarah or Nige has a quick catch up about what I have been doing at home while I come in and play.
Before school – I have some breakfast if I haven’t already eaten at home (older children). I play with my friends - cuddles or cosy places to sit and watch are always available if I am feeling a little delicate.
School run – most days I go to the school round the corner to drop off older friends. I learn a lot on the school run - we talk about the weather and seasons, spot letters, numbers, changes in nature etc.
Morning – younger children have a late breakfast. Then we sit together and talk about what we are going to do during the morning and change the calendar. We do our ‘wake up shake up’ music and movement group session and then I go off to do activities – sometimes I go on outings in the local area or further afield and other times I play in the house and garden.
During the morning – I have lots of time to play my own self-chosen games and I am involved in short focused activities that help me to learn through play. Together, we might find out about something that is interesting me or learn about world festivals and celebrations and we always make time to read, sing and dance, do some mark making, learn about maths, role play, build with blocks or Lego etc. There are plenty of opportunities to create and explore nature etc… this is called our continuous provision – the toys and games that are always available. This continuous provision is enhanced depending on my current interests and learning styles.
Outings might include, for example -
- Monday - shopping and snack in the cafe
- Tuesday - feeding the ducks and play at the park
- Wednesday - nature walk in Tatton Park
- Thursday - childminder group
- Friday - walk to feed the ducks
Snack time – whether I am in the house or on an outing I usually have a small snack during the morning. Snack is always healthy and includes fruit. During snack I play games or tell stories together with my friends.
One-to-one focus time – little ones – I have a one-to-one session with Sarah or Nige to play games of my choice or join in with planned / focus activities to support and challenge my learning.
Lunchtime – I wash my hands and we all eat together at the table. I choose what I want to eat and help prepare meals, set and clear the table etc as soon as I am old enough. We often play phonics (linked to Letters and Sounds phase 1) or maths games when we are sitting together at meal times.
Afternoon – during lunch we talk about what we have done in the morning and what we are going to do later. I chat about the different games that are available and I choose where I want to play. This is time for me to play my games and for Sarah and Nige to play alongside me, supporting my language or behaviour, for example and popping in some learning as we play.
Invitations to play might include, for example –
- Monday – messy play
- Tuesday – role play and dressing up
- Wednesday – mark making
- Thursday – exploring nature
- Friday – being creative.
Sleep or rest time – if I need a sleep, I lie down in the house or garden (depending on weather and preference) and have a little snooze.
One-to-one focus time – older children – I have a one-to-one session with Sarah or Nige to play games of my choice or join in with planned / focus activities to support and challenge my learning.
Note for early years providers - in the afternoon, older children might also be involved in some focused learning about, for example, the seasons, the weather, one of their interests, our local community or festivals from our multicultural calendar. Activities are based loosely on the planning available for gold Childcare.co.uk members here - parents are encouraged to ask us if they would like more information about our group planning.
Reading time – before the school run I help to tidy up and then I sit with Sarah and my friends to read some books. I choose a book – and so do all my friends – and so do Sarah or Nige so we listen to different books every day as well as my favourites. I learn to sit and listen and sometimes I enjoy joining in with storytelling.
School run – most days I go to collect older friends from school. We play games on the way there and listen to the older children’s stories on the way back.
After school – there are ‘invitations to play’ (based on continuous provision) set up on in the house and garden. For example, there might be crafts on the table, things to do and explore on the patio and games to play with my older friends. Older children can read their school books or do homework. The time flies before tea!
Tidy up and song time – I help put the toys and games away and make everything tidy for the next day. Then I sit together with my friends and we sing songs and rhymes while everyone washes their hands ready for tea.
Our daily music and movement sessions might include, for example –
- Monday – dancing with the parachute
- Tuesday – favourite songs and rhymes
- Wednesday – recognising and copying sounds
- Thursday – movement songs and rhymes
- Friday – musical instruments.
Tea time – I take it in turns with my friends (over 2s) to help with preparing and cooking food. Then, at tea time I sit with everyone at the table. I am encouraged to join in with games at the table and we all chat about our days. We talk about group issues when we are all sitting together as well.
TV and home time – after tea I sit with my friends and watch TV until my parents arrive – or I can get a book and sit and read quietly with a friend. Sarah or Nige has a quick catch up with my parents at the door while I put on my shoes and coat and then I say ‘goodbye’ and leave.
Evening – Sarah emails my diary to tell my parents all about my day; sometimes, there are photos on WhatsApp as well. There are often ideas for me to continue my learning at home in the diary. Sarah and Nige then set up for the next day, thinking about what I have enjoyed doing and what I might like to play with during my next session.
Evenings are also when Sarah writes up my Learning Journey file with observations and assessments of my learning and reflects on what I can do and what I might enjoy doing next. Parents, please pop in and see your child’s file: it captures (we hope) a flavour of their time here and tracks their learning and development throughout their time in the provision. It is also really important that you keep us updated with what your child is doing at home so we can tailor their learning experience here to their current home interests.
If you have any questions about your child's daily routine please ask us!
Thank you! Sarah and Nige.