Creating Developmentally Appropriate Daily Schedules

A developmentally appropriate schedule is a plan for your classroom that is based upon the understanding of a child’s development. This approach to teaching takes into account the child’s age and individual needs.  

The educator will use a variety of teaching approaches throughout different activities to promote positive outcomes for each child. This schedule should facilitate relationships and interactions throughout the classroom. 

At this age, a picture schedule would be most appropriate, as the child does not yet know how to read, but is old enough to understand what each upcoming picture means and what activity to expect next, creating consistency and routine. 

Read how NAEYC defines Developmentally Appropriate Practice.

How to Implement a Developmentally Appropriate Schedule

Consider the children’s attention span. 

Young children in preschool can only focus for a given amount of time on one activity. Be sure to include activities that will hold their attention and be engaging to them for the set amount of time planned. A typical 3-year-old can focus anywhere from 3-8 minutes while a typical 4-year-old can focus for 4-15 minutes depending on the activity.  

Present opportunities for activities that foster physical, emotional, and social growth. 

Be intentional with the activities you plan to give children a chance to learn and grow in each of these areas.

Have a balance of activities. 

Be sure to include both group and individual activities, a mix of noisy and quiet activities, and activities that vary in pace and location. 

Provide your students with choice. 

It is empowering for children to make their own decisions about what to do. Even if you provide only two options, the students can decide what direction they want to take, which will allow them to engage with the activity for a longer period of time.

Use visual clues to remind children what to do and where to go. 

A picture schedule is a perfect way to allow the students to see what they are doing. Labeling each center or activity with the corresponding picture may also be helpful so the students know where each is planned.

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