D.2. Daily Schedules and Routines

Daily Schedules and Routines

All classrooms at UNOW devise a daily schedule that meets the developmental needs and abilities of the age they serve. Classroom schedules allow for a balance of time for play and exploration, time for nutritious meals and snacks, and time for rest. In the youngest groups, this means that each individual infant might have a daily schedule that is unique to their needs. During infant care activities, teachers bond with each individual baby and engage in responsive conversation, song and play. As the children get older meal times and rest times become predictable and organized into a daily group schedule. A daily routine provides a sense of security and predictability for children from day to day.  In the Preschool age classrooms, 2 ½ to 5 years, in addition to the meal times and rest times, there are daily times when groups come together for a story or class meeting on the rug. UNOW strongly believes in the need for ample time outside for all young children to vigorously explore their outdoor surroundings and to experience large motor activity daily. All UNOW classrooms are scheduled to go outdoors at least two times per day whenever weather permits. Outdoor activity may also include walks or stroller rides around the building. To learn the specific daily schedule of your child’s class, look for the daily schedule posted in the room or speak with the Lead Teacher for your child’s classroom daily schedule.

Daily Schedules and Routine Care

A core part of the daily schedule is centered on routine care needs.  The care needs of our youngest infants drive their personal schedule based on individual needs and development.  Infants eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired. As children grow and develop, the schedule maintains care needs but more so on the group, based on their age and development.  

Food, Nutrition, Snacks and Meals

Infants Feeding

Babies are always held and bottle fed as they demonstrate they are hungry. UNOW supports a mother’s choice to breast feed. There is a lactation room available on site and mothers are free to breast feed in the classroom if desired. All bottles with formula must be prepared on site and labeled with the child’s name and date.  No formula or fresh breast milk will be given to children that is older than 24 hours. Families provide bottles, formula or breast milk daily.  Bottles must be labeled with the child’s name and date and time milk was expressed if applicable. Emergency formula and breast milk may be kept in the freezer in case of emergency.  

From Bottles to Whole Foods

UNOW will support children transitioning to whole or pureed foods by around 6 months.  UNOW will provide soft or pureed foods for babies. As babies transition to whole foods, families review the weekly menus and provide a plan for acceptable foods until the child has completely transitioned to the whole foods on the menu. There is a separate infant menu plan distributed to families each week. As children grow from young infants to older infants, toddlers and preschoolers, they are able to sit at small group tables and participate in family style eating.

Family-style meal service is defined as a dining experience when the children and adult staff eat at the table together and the children are allowed to serve themselves from appropriately-sized bowls, serving utensils and pitchers.  Children at any age never eat alone or are never left unsupervised.

Meal times provide adults with ideal opportunities to help children adopt positive attitudes toward healthy foods.  Family-style dining promotes and supports social, emotional, and fine motor skill development.  This type of meal service allows for teachers, caregivers, and children to eat together and create a relaxed atmosphere.  Conversation at the table adds to the mealtime environment and provides opportunities for informal modeling of appropriate eating behaviors, communication about eating, and imparting nutrition learning experiences.  Children in the older age groups assist in setting the table and with cleaning up their place settings at the end of each meal period.

UNOW participates in The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) which encourages family-style dining as a method for providing nutritious meals in an Early Care and Education (ECE) setting. UNOW makes every effort to ensure that CACFP meal pattern requirements are fulfilled and that balanced and nutritious foods are served daily.  Menus are posted weekly on the UNOW Website and sent out weekly via the UNOW parent list serve. UNOW is committed to serving healthy meals that meet the USDA standards.  Menus are monitored by the CACFP program to ensure meals low in sugar, salt and fats. No child will ever be refused food as a means of punishment nor for any discriminatory reason.

Food Preferences, Lifestyles and Allergies

UNOW responds to families’ food preferences, lifestyles such as vegetarian or food preferences to support personal religious beliefs.  There are also guidelines that must be followed with regard to food allergies.  Speak to your child’s teacher or refer to the medical and health section of the handbook for specific guidelines.  UNOW is a tree peanut and nut free environment.

Toileting Needs

Throughout the course of a child’s experience at UNOW, teachers strive to encourage the eventual development of independent toileting skills that reflect the nurturing, caring experiences teachers have provided throughout all of those years.

For as long as a child is in diapers, families at UNOW provide the diapers and wipes as needed and restocked as indicated by the teaching staff. Usually this is with a note placed in their cubby but families should always check with individual classrooms to see how this information is communicated.

Teachers are trained to check diapers at least every 2 hours and change whenever needed. Teachers are also trained in prosper diapering procedures to promote sanitation, trust, attachment, and security.

Moving towards the goal of using a toilet independently, families should expect to be in regular contact with teachers as signs of readiness are observed both at home and at school. Teachers know this is a very individual process. Children sometimes show signs of readiness for a period and then may retreat in their focus or suddenly be working on other new skills and interests. Good communication and coordination of expectations between home and school helps to provide a supportive and successful experience for children learning toileting independence skills. There is no required age for toileting independence imposed by UNOW.

By the time a child is in the oldest classrooms, teachers help children to follow the signals their bodies give them and encourage them to use the toilet and wash their hands as needed. In addition, there are set times within the daily schedule where older children are asked to use the bathroom. At all times, supervision is maintained through sight and sound.  Teachers strive for toileting to be an experience that feels supported and builds confidence.

Sleep Practices

At UNOW we support each child in safely getting the rest and sleep they need throughout the day.

This means allowing infants to sleep as needed - whenever needed and as long as needed. Infants are always placed on their backs unless a doctor’s note is provided for them to be placed in a different position before they are able to independently and regularly roll over. Teachers are trained to have nothing loose in the crib besides the fitted sheet and an attachment free pacifier. Infants are permitted to sleep in sleep sacks. Fitted crib sheets are laundered at least weekly by staff. A staff member is always present when an infant is sleeping in the crib room.

Around the age of 12 months, naps and rest times are organized toward predictable schedules and children begin to rest as a group. By the age of 12 months, most children transition from cribs to sleeping on padded mats on the floor. These mats are individually labeled with each child’s name and provided a fitted sheet.  The fitted sheets are cleaned weekly, or if soiled, and staff sanitize the mats weekly or sooner if soiled. Families provide labeled bedding and a small pillow if the child normally would sleep with one.  If children would like to bring a small lovey or stuffed animal from home to help in going to sleep, it is labeled and stored with the rest of their bedding.  Labeled bedding and blankets are sent home weekly to be washed and returned the following week.

Between the ages of 18 months and 4 years, licensing requires all children to be offered a quiet, restful time of 30 minutes with no other activity. After 30 minutes, children who have not fallen asleep and who otherwise do not seem tired may play with a quiet activity until the other children have awakened.  Children sleeping past 30 minutes will have the ability to naturally awaken at their own pace. 

After the age of 4, we must offer a quiet time to rest but there may be a quiet activity offered the whole time for those children who are not in the habit of sleeping.  Each child is provided with a sleeping mat and fitted sheet.  Fitted sheets are washed weekly by staff.  Extra bedding is sent home every Friday to be laundered and returned the following Monday. Staff must maintain supervision by sight and sound the entire time any child at UNOW is sleeping.

Daily Schedules and Types of Experiences

Teachers prepare a daily schedule providing a balance of active and quiet play; group and individual activity; and teacher directed and child directed activities. 

Individual Play and Social Gatherings

It is important for children to have a balance of individual play and group play.  In infancy, the social development begins with interactions between child and caregiver.  Infants enjoy the company of other babies and often interact with others in their presence.  As children grow, their set of social skills expand.  They begin to move from parallel play to cooperative play.  The classroom arrangements and routines of the day are designed to allow time for individual or small groups as well as large group activity to match the social needs of each age group.

Indoor or Outdoor Active Play

Active play and movement are important for every child’s growth, health, and learning. Providing an environment that supports appropriate physical activity for infants helps them with developing movement skills, such as sitting up, rolling over and crawling. During the first six years of life, children will develop gross motor skills (like kicking and throwing) and learn healthy habits by participating in physical activity. Habits are learned early in life, so being active while at UNOW can instill a lifelong interest and delight in physical activity. UNOW has two indoor multi-purpose rooms available for active play in addition to three playgrounds based on age:  infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

Outdoor Experiences

UNOW believes strongly in the need for daily, vigorous play outdoors whenever possible. As such, the goal for all groups is go outside every day. It is important that children have closed toed shoes and appropriate attire for the weather. Children will play outside in a variety of weather conditions.  There are some weather restrictions that may inhibit the length of time children spend outdoors on a given day. UNOW uses the Child Care Weather Watch Chart (http://files.ctctcdn.com/58b71d34401/032727e6-2cb7-4b1d-8da6-d270171b08f7.pdf) as endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics to determine when weather safely allows for outdoor play. All groups should consult their Lead Teacher to know of the specific dress requirements for outdoor play. Classrooms will generally go outside at least twice per day for periods of 40 to 60 minutes each. 

Walks, Stroller Rides and Field Trips

Walking field trips are another way for children to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Providing parental consent at the beginning of the year, children will frequently go on walking field trips within the immediate vicinity; usually within a two block radius of the center.  Strollers are provided at the center for babies and older children will go on walks. Once or twice a year, there may be a preplanned off site field trip for the older preschool age children.  Parents will be notified in advance to provide written consent.  Parent/guardians may also volunteer to join and help with off-site field trips.

Messy Play – Dress for a mess!

Children reap many developmental benefits from being able to explore freely a variety of sensory and artistic materials that may leave clothes showing the effects of them. As such, UNOW asks families to dress children every day in clothes that allow for any kind of indoor or outdoor experience that could include the possibility of getting messy. If there is something happening after school for a family that calls for being dressed in fresh, clean clothes, it is recommended to bring those clothes and change into them at the end of the school day. Additionally, every classroom asks to have at least one complete labeled change of clothing on hand at all times in case the need arises due to any type of play. Both the Infant/Toddler Wing and the Preschool Wing have the use of a washer/dryer to help with any needs that arise from messy play.

Story Time

Language and literacy is immersed throughout the day in all age groups. Language and literacy experiences can take the form of conversations, stories, sing-alongs, posters, books and signs, just to name a few.  Depending on the age group, teachers have planned story times and stories are read informally to children on laps or in small groups throughout the day. Children have opportunities to select and look through books on their own. Teachers carefully select books and songs related to children’s interests and developmental levels.   Classrooms are stocked with picture books that are engaging and represent a wide diversity of cultures, lifestyles, abilities and interests.  The best story times include child participation.  No need to be quiet in this library!  As children develop with their listening and verbal skills they are given opportunities to tell their own stories.  Teachers sometimes write as children dictate their own stories.  In the older age groups children practice writing and illustrating in books they have made themselves. Children at UNOW are exposed to the many wonders of the world through stories and books.

Music Time - Always time for a song!

Music is a part of the daily routine of all classrooms.  Sometimes there will be music playing in the background to create a lively or peaceful atmosphere.  Children enjoy dancing and creative movement while listening to music. Teachers may sing songs to an infant or provide sing-alongs in small groups.  Singing songs is a wonderful way for children to play with the sounds of language and rhythm. Musical instruments from shakers to strings are available to children regularly. Often music is utilized to help children transition from one activity to another. Families are welcome to offer their musical talents to the classroom.  If you love to sing or play an instrument, please come and bring the music.  Families are encouraged to share their favorites and expose children to many cultures through music.  During rest time, children are lulled to sleep with soft music to sooth and calm their bodies after a busy morning. 

Free Play - A time for discovery and exploration

Children learn best through active exploration. All age groups are provided ample unhurried time to discover and explore their classrooms.   Young infants demonstrate interest as they reach toward objects and gravitate toward particular faces and materials.  Infants and toddlers explore their environment through grasping, rolling, smelling, tasting and other sensory avenues. In addition to sensory activity, toddlers explore their world with large body movement through walking, climbing and manipulating larger objects. During the older preschool ages, children’s interest become more defined and they are able to expand on their previous experiences. The Creative Curriculum often describes the classroom as the “third teacher” in the room. The teacher’s role is to provide an environment rich with materials and experiences for children to observe, explore and to choose from. Children are fully invested in their exploration and learning when they are able to choose experiences that matter to them.