A home daycare daily schedule will be your best friend for success in running a home daycare. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Of course, staying right on schedule every day is an impossibility. I have been running a successful home daycare for over 25 years, so I KNOW kids are unpredictable and days are too. But having a rough estimate of what comes next is helpful for the provider as well as comforting for kids.
Home daycare daily schedule
There are some non-negotiables when building a routine for a home daycare. Eating, cleaning up the kids, cleaning up the house, licensing requirements, and children’s developmental needs. The oldest one in the book is, my kids don’t need a nap so they will go to bed earlier at night.
If you are running a home daycare with children under 5, they NEED a nap. It’s a developmental necessity. Kids need rest. So, make sure you stick to it for the development of the children you care for. If you have trouble getting your kids to sleep, check this out.
Once nap time is determined, you can go from there. We do nap from 12:30ish to 3. I wake the kids up at 3. Sometimes they are stirring, sometimes they are laying on their beds just having woken up, and many times they are sound asleep, especially on Mondays when they come in worn out from being out of routine on the weekends.
Don’t forget to pin for later
It’s worked for me all these years, so I set up my day around getting them to settle in at 12:30. It takes them a while to quiet their minds and fall asleep, so by 1, usually, everyone has dozed off. Usually before them. Some kids are asleep by 12:31 every day.
Now we need to figure out some time to play outside. Outside play is one of the most important parts of children’s development. So, it’s a first priority. In Oklahoma, it can get super hot in the summer and summer is about 8 to 10 months a year, so we get everyone in, eat breakfast, and head outside in summer.
In winter, we have activities inside first and go outside a little later when the sun has had a chance to warm up the play area a little. We love to be outside, but if it’s over 90 we only stay out about 15 minutes. If it’s under 40, we do the same.
Some days it’s nice and we can do teacher-directed activities outside and even eat lunch outside. On those days we could get in several hours outside. Do what works for your climate and your group of kids and parents.
Next, we have meal times. By our licensing requirements, we need to feed kids every three hours they are awake. So, we do breakfast at 8:30, lunch at 11:30, and then snack at 3 when they get up. This has worked great for me. Some providers don’t do breakfast and do a morning snack instead. I find later morning snacks prevent my kids from eating lunch so I don’t do one. You can do what works for your business.
Now we need to balance teacher-directed with child-directed activities and quiet time with rowdy play. We need a mix of all of it. Free play is vitally important so make sure to make time for kids to play on their own.
We do our teacher-directed activities either before or after outside time, depending on the season, in the morning. Kids learn best in the morning time and the afternoon is chaotic with pick-up times. I ask all my families to have kids here by breakfast time so we can get to learning after we eat.
I have a rotation each day which includes science, math, prereading, learning phone numbers, and parent’s names for safety, art, music and movement, and occasionally a craft. I’m big on process art and not product crafts, so that’s mostly what we do. We also do a structured storytime with books, singing, and fingerplays daily right before nap.
Infant daycare daily schedule
Infants, which I recently stopped keeping, have a looser schedule and happen along with the child’s development and needs. We have time for diapers and toileting daily, but we all know infants work at their own pace on diaper needs and feeding. You can get into a routine and have a loose schedule over time, but it will never be as routine as older kids.
Sample infant daycare daily schedule
9:30 books, puppets, fingerplays, and songs
12:00 storytime and songs
12:30 tummy time
3:00 sensory play
4:00 free play
Daycare schedule for infants and toddlers
Schedules will include: tummy time for non-mobile infants, working on standing, and walking for nearly mobile infants. For all ages of infants, you’ll spend time daily providing snuggles, eye contact, and talking to them. They need as much interaction as possible. Some of that can be active play such as moving their arms and legs and helping them to stand up and bounce themselves.
You’ll need a lot of flexibility, but you can have a routine you follow each day such as interaction with each child, then some free play, diapering, bottle, and a nap. Then interaction, diapering free play, then spoon-feeding or another bottle, then a nap. Then interaction, diapering, free play, bottle and/or spoon-feeding, and so on.
For toddlers, the schedule can be more structured. They are newly mobile, so face to face interaction will be a little less according to their needs and they will become more independent.
So, their schedule can be more like that of a preschool schedule with a little more flexibility and variations. Toddlers need at least 60 minutes a day of active play, so more outdoor time, and large motor activities should be provided.
Sample toddler daycare daily schedule
9:00 centers/free play
9:30 songs and fingerplays
10:15 morning snack
10:30 outside play
12:00 art or sensory play
1:00 storytime and songs
3:30 fine motor play (games/puzzles, etc.)
4:00 free play
Daycare schedule for 3-4-year olds
Preschoolers need plenty of time to run and play. They are exploring and learning at a super-fast pace. They need dramatic play activities as well as fine motor and gross motor. For help in planning lesson plans, check these tools out.
You still need some flexibility, and if you are like most home daycare providers, you’ll have all of these age groups to work with. So, you’ll have to be flexible with the big kid’s activities because of the younger kids.
For us, we have free play from drop off until breakfast, then breakfast, either outside time or teacher-directed activities, then free play while I make lunch. Next, we eat and then have stories with singing and fingerplays, then rest time and then nap.
After nap time we have free time until pick up because my parents start picking up soon after the kids get up and continue until I close at 5. Sometimes that may look like a table full of puzzles and a pile of books for them to explore.
Sometimes it looks like playing with the toys they choose, and sometimes it may be letting them do some fine motor activities of their choice at the table while I sit with them and talk.
Sample preschool daycare daily schedule
9:00 fine motor activity (puzzles, lacing cards, sensory table, etc.)
9:30 songs and teacher-directed activity of the day (rotating between math, science, art, music, etc.)
10:30 outside time
12:00 storytime and songs
3:30 free play
Overnight daycare schedule
If you have the fortitude to provide overnight or 24-hour daycare in your home, you’re braver than me. But you still need a schedule for what goes on. One thing about nighttime care is that the kids sleep for most of it.
You need to check the rules in your area to find out if you are allowed to sleep any during the night or if overnight daycare means staying awake all night.
I would assume the needs for this type of care would include the 7 pm to 7 am shift and the 11 pm to 7 am shift. You could double up on income by making sure you open at 7:30 for a daytime shift to make sure your overnight daycare kids are gone.
So, we’ll do a 12-hour overnight daycare shift to cover those hours. First, the kids come in at 7, you’ll feed them dinner and either bathe them or just change them into their pajamas, depending on your agreement with the parents.
You’ll have to have a place for the kids to sleep comfortably. The requirements for that may be the same as daytime rules, but check to see if you have to have real mattresses for nighttime care. I would assume with kids leaving that early, you wouldn’t be including breakfast, but you may want to. For this example, we won’t.
Sample overnight daycare daily schedule
7:30 homework/free play
6:30 wake up and get dressed
Free printable daycare schedule
Click on the images below to get your free printable home daycare daily schedule that you can fill out and post in your home daycare.
For more home daycare helps such as meal planning, daily planner sheets, licensing checklists, infant daily reports and more, check out these products on Etsy.