Keeping your Sanity with Routines in Home Daycare (With free printable daycare schedule)
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Daily routines in your daycare daily schedule are one of the most important things you’ll do to make your days successful when running a home daycare.
Check out this super easy way to plan your schedule and even get a free printable version of what’s worked for me for 23 years of home daycare. There is nothing more important than a daily schedule for kids.
Having routines in home daycare has many benefits. The first one is, it makes sure you get all of the things into the day that are required. When planning your home daycare schedule, start with your meals first.
What are your requirements for feeding the kids? For me, they must be fed every three hours if they are awake. Click here to see how routines benefit kids.
For more tips for daycare providers, click here.
Toddler daycare schedule
Over the years of trying out different snack times, I have found that if I feed a morning snack, the kids don’t eat well at lunch and we waste a lot of food, so I just do snacks in the afternoon in my daycare schedule for toddlers and preschoolers.
My food program requires that if I say my lunch is at 11:30, I must be feeding the kids NO EARLIER than 11:15 and NO LATER than 11:45. This doesn’t mean the meal has to fit in those times, it just means you have to begin serving between those times or the meal is not creditable.
Daycare daily schedule
I have kids that come in at all hours of the morning. Different parents have different jobs and start at different times. I noticed that most people dropped their kids off by 8:15 or so, so I made my breakfast serving time at 8:30. It’s hard to serve the kids a meal and having to keep running to the door and greet other kids. This daycare daily schedule works best for me.
I eat with my kids so I can keep an eye on them while they eat. It’s important for safety. I want to make sure no one chokes or throws their food on the floor or at each other. Sitting down with the kids at every meal if possible helps me model behavior for table manners and eating habits.
Kids are watching everything you do. I take vitamins every morning with breakfast and every day when I do, this certain little boy will act like he’s doing it too. It’s so cute, but it also reminds me that I am teaching with every action.
If I’m serving breakfast at 8:30, then the latest I can serve lunch is 11:30, so that’s a given on my home daycare schedule. Next, I have to figure out afternoon snack time.
That depends on nap. I don’t like to feed my kids and put them straight to bed, so after we clean up our lunch, we have quiet stories and songs.
We usually finish lunch around 12 and get cleaned up and start stories by around 12:15, so if we sing and snuggle for 20 minutes, that puts the start of nap around 12:35 or 12:40. The kids are usually all asleep by 1. I let them sleep for about two hours and wake them up at 3. Their snack is ready for them when they get up and put their beds away. And HOW do you get them all to take a nap?
Click here to see how to make lesson planning easier.
Meals are 8:30, 11:30 and 3, and nap is from 1-3, that is the main structure for our day. We are required to read to the kids for 15 minutes a day in home daycare, and that is met during our quiet snuggle time before nap, so that covers all the requirements except for outside play, active play (which can be the same) and potty/diapering times.
First, we wash hands before each meal and when we come in from outside play. Then we potty and change diapers before we go outside, when we get back in, before nap, and after nap and obviously whenever else it’s needed. If kids have mastered the potty, they just go whenever they need to and I change poopy diapers as soon as I know they have pooped.
Outside time is planned for right after breakfast if it’s hot out and right before lunch if it’s cold out and when the weather is nice for a few weeks in fall and spring, it’s usually from breakfast to lunch if possible. Our free time is spent outside as much as possible. Before breakfast and after nap we are watching for parents, so we don’t get to go outside then.
Each day, we have a planned activity in our daycare daily schedule. Those are different at different times, but during the school year, we do “school” on Mondays, science on Tuesdays, free art and music on Wednesdays, and planned art of Thursdays. Friday is fun day and we have more free play.
School activities are learning how to spell our names, phone numbers, practicing writing or using scissors and other skills we will need for school.
Science could be anything from looking at bugs, studying flowers, planting a seed, playing with magnets, learning anything that has to do with science.
Free art is just having paper and some art medium and letting the kids make whatever they want. Music is loud music of the kid’s choice with instruments to play.
Planned art could be color sheets if the kids choose, crafts, clay, whatever I come up with that goes with the theme we are doing. Don’t forget, when planning your schedule to allow for busy, loud times as well as quiet, relaxing times. All of one or the other isn’t good for anyone.
Daycare schedule template
Our daycare daily schedule, and it’s worked great for me with very few changes for 23 years is as follows:
- 7:00 open, free play
- 8:30 breakfast
- 9:00 clean up, potty, during hot weather, we go outside at 9. During cool weather, we have activities at 9.
- 10:00 clean up, potty, during hot weather, we have activities at 10. During cool weather, we go outside at 10.
- 11:00 clean up, potty, watch part of a movie or play with special toys (each week they get to choose a tote of special toys we use all week) while I make lunch.
- 11:30 lunch
- 12:00 clean up, potty
- 12:15 story time, singing, finger plays, snuggling
- 12:45 get ready for bed
- 1:00 nap
- 3:00 snack
- 3:30 clean up, potty
- 3:45 free play until time to go home (sometimes we have activities such as playdough, puzzles or coloring during this time as well, it depends on what the kids want to do.)
For a free printable daycare schedule template, click below:
- Printable version of my schedule: Home Daycare Schedule
- Printable version of blank sample home daycare schedule template you can fill out: Schedule
The second reason schedules and routines help make family childcare a success is because it helps kids (and teachers) know what’s coming next. Knowing what’s coming in your day helps everyone feel confident and more secure.
If you or your children suffer from anxiety, this can help transition immensely. Once children get used to the rhythm of your day, it will go smoothly for the most part. Everyone has bad days on occasion, of course.
Home daycare schedule
Knowing what comes next helps kids develop their sense of self and confidence. They can help with the transition and will even begin reminding you what it’s time for. Kids will learn the ebbs and flows of the day from your daycare daily schedule.
A daily schedule for kids also helps them when they begin attending school. They will know there is an order to the day and it will help their transition go more smoothly.