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Pre-school Rountine


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Hello all ive very recently just opened my own pre-school (1 week into it) and i feel im struggling to get a routine in place. We are open 9.30 - 12.45 which includes lunch club. What routines work for your setting i.e do you have a snack bar or a set time for snack time, do the children self- register when they come in or do you as a group sit down for register time,what time do you start clearing away activities ect.thanks for any advice.

Edited by Guest
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Hi, congratulations on opening your own pre-school, hope you begin to really enjoy the hard work that comes with it!!!


I think it might depend on how your premises are laid out as to what lends itself to a certain routine sometimes.


When the children come into ours, they are marked in on the register immediately by a member of staff, then the children self register but as they come immediately into the hall which is ready to "go" - it is, i think, unfair to expect them to go and sit in a corner, circle, or any other area and wait for everyone to come in then take the register and do a plan, do, review type of thing before they can go and get on and play with their friends.


So after they have registered, they may play as they wish for 2 hours, inside or out (out is a bit weather dependent as we have no sheltered area). Depending upon how the morning is going, we may tidy up at 11 o'clock, then the children play a short adult led game, go and wash, choose their snack and all sit down at the same time. If the children get restless at snack time adults sit at the table with them and engage in talk or look at a book etc. until everyone has virtually finished. After snack we would have short adult led physical exercise (parachute games, obstacle course, music and movement type thing) and then we all have a story at the end of the morning, at the moment we do this as a whole group thing, but occasionally we split up into much smaller groups. Then it's time to get ready to go home.


Our lunch club runs from 12.15 to 1.15, after lunch the children have free play again.



So for 2 hours the children have child initiated time, and for the last hour, or so it's the adult agenda, - tidying up, playing a game (this may be anything from a phonic game, number songs, shape game as a whole group + 2 adults) while we are playing the game 2 other adults are either getting snack ready or finishing tidying up.


This works for us - but for many groups they like to have a rolling snack bar for half an hour or so during the morning and finish with tidying up, story going home.


Our way does mean more transition times which for some children can be difficult - but once you have established your routine and the children know it, it will begin to go as clockwork :oxD We find if we are going to change any of our routines substantially, we do it gradually over a couple of mornings, we talk to the children about it in advance and the adults model what is going to happen, that way we don't experience too many problems.


Good luck with establishing your routine and your pre-school

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Our routine is similar to that of Panders.


The children come to nursery in the morning at 9am and go straight into play, indors or outdoors.

We do have a covered area but there are wellies and waterproofs in case of rain anyway.

Staff register them.


The "cafe" is open from the start of the session for children to eat and drink when they want. It is usually cleared away at tidy up time.


At about 11am a child is chosen to ring the bells (rather than staff shouting!!) and she or he tells them it is tidy up time.


We don't tidy outdoors unless there's extreme mess (!!) but inside we need the tables cleared for lunch.


After tidying we may have circle time or story etc.


Some mornings we "Activate" but when we started the session with this often the late children interupted ad then if its done part way through the morning this might well stop a child's flow of play! Sometimes the children put it on themselves!!


Lunch is 11.30 -12.30 with morning nursery going mainly at 12 and afternooners arriving at 12.


At 12.30 we start all over again......................!!!!!!!!!


We finish at 3pm.


We try (!) to have one focused activity a day but sometimes this doesn't happen!!


I think pre school should have some routine for the children to feel safe and secure but I don't think you should get bogged down with a routine.

As you go on, and the pre school settles, a pattern will probably emerge or maybe you will do things one way and realise that doesn't work how you thought it would!!


For instance we used to all sit for "tuck" together.

When we stopped it opened up the morning beautifully and we wondered why we ever did it all together.


You will see what suits you, your staff and of course your children.


Good luck!

Edited by Scarlettangel
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We offer flexible starts so have children arriving from 840 - 910.

Parents mark their children in on the register, children self register so we can see at a glance who's in. The first half an hour is settling in, free play then we have whole group register - sing days of week song, incorporate a little phonics (wet and windy wednesday sort of thing) choose a child a session to guess if there are more boys or more girls, then count them; we then go outside for exercise which can be action songs, playing on the school climbing equipment etc. By 945 we're back in for free play which is freeflow to outside, younger groups room, wherever the children choose to play.

We have rolling snack operating from 950 to 11am; children prep snack for everyone - adult sits with them, not always same adult for whole snack session - we naturally rotate. Tidy up at 1110 - 1120; those who've finished tidying choose a book to look at on the carpet. then whole group story, show and tell, singing, whatever really, very flexible.

1135 those staying for lunch wash hands; we let those coming for lunch in.

1140 home time for some. Lunch to 1210, home time for some, arrival for others. the afternoon runs the same but in reverse.


We do small group work as and when through the session - it's a case of seeing what the children are playing and extending their learning within their play rather than taking them off and doing specific foscussed activities.



Edited by sam2368
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i fully believe the routine should be what you feel is best for the children at the time...


we did do a morning come in ans sit together to start the session... as a part of the routine we found the children settled quickly and it meant we did not interrupt play after a short period of time , we liked a short time together in the mornings.. ... all staff were with the children and they enjoyed sitting with us to chat for about 10 mins at most.. It was a very social time. If we found it was not working we dropped it or changed it..


snack depends on your children, each year we reviewed it but usually had a snack bar open for an hour in the morning, not all session for us, but we were flexible and if needed we did have it longer. we gave up on group snack when we realised amount of time it was taking, and they still get al the same interaction and learning in a snack bar.. they chose when to come, and came with friends, there was an adult present in ours as we had enough staff to do this... so all the chat, group together sharing etc still occurred.


rest was free time for us, but our outdoor areas was not accessible for free flow so we all stopped at a set time to tidy, story and then go outside...


look at the children, see what they respond to best.. our routine changed depending on them, each year was adapted slightly.



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  • 4 months later...

Hello, I am stuck in a rut......on routines - well done for openinng your own


I have tried so may routines I think I have gone full circle.


At the moment


children enter between 09.10-09.30 parents sign them in and children self register

child initiated play throughout this time and doors open at 10am for free flow play at the moment the snack area is opened too for cafe style snack.


Children come back in at 11am tidy up whole group time song etc followed by small group time 1-5/6 at 11.30ish children stay until 12ish followed by circle time and story.


Today's experience was ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh


I need some help - how long should group time be - should children be seated for a lenght of time - how can I change this - i need help

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We are currently in a hall, the session starts at 9.30, the children come in (parents sign them in) the child collects their name card and goes into our quiet room where they stick their name card to the velcro board, they can then look at books, chat to their friends etc. When all children have arrived we do our good morning song, day of the week and weather (takes 5 mins max) we then talk to the children about any visitors we are expecting and the activities that we have out, we have found this really works for our setting, as some children like to know whats going to be happening, so they dont become frightened etc. by 9.40 all the children are enjoying free play in the main hall, there is usually 1 adult led activity per day, which the children can choose to take part in. At 10.35 all children are asked if they would like to help pre pare the fruit for snack, usually 4 helpers volunteer, sometimes more, sometimes less. Fruit prep is run like an activity, the children doing the prep choose the fruit and prepare by peeling and chopping etc, this is then put into four big bowls, one for each group, covered and refridgerated until 11.15, when we have sit down snack. Tidy up time is at 11.00, we then have a whole group session, which can be a story, singing , ring game etc, we sometimes split into smaller groups, for letters and sounds, for instance we have a group of children on the alliteration aspect and younger children on environmental sounds, so they might go outside etc.


Snack is at 11.30, when this is finished two groups go outside (our outside area is very compact, so we are only able to take 10 children out at a time. So two groups will do show and tell (which the children love) and two groups go outside, we then swap over.


On Wednesday and Fridays we finish at 12.15. On Monday and Thursdays we are open from 9.30 unti 3.00, in the afternoons we go out and about around the village to either school playground, library etc, we also do library visits in the morning about once a fortnight.


We are closed on Tuesday's


Hope this helps

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