View Full Version : How Much Free Time Do You Give Per Day?

02-15-2012, 06:21 AM
I run a pretty tight activity schedule packed with education, games, art, and exercise. I was just wondering what everyone else's programs are like. Is there a lot of free time throughout the day?

I find that my kids are happier in this set up and that when they have TOO much free time they find mischief or begin to bicker.

I was just curious as too what others do.

02-15-2012, 08:00 AM
We have a schedule that we stick to as I feel kids thrive in this type of environment. Having said that I think it's important for kids to have free time to do what they want and just have some of their own fun, play with who they want and even go and read a book by themselves. I'm always still present during free time to see if I need to intervene. I agree...too much free time and they become bored and get into mischief so you need to find the balance that works for your group. The schedule I had in my last daycare ( we just moved towns) is just a different then what we have now..similar but different age group with different interests.

02-15-2012, 08:05 AM
I'm the opposite. I give large blocks of freeplay but have the room set up so that some of the options include educational games and activities. This works well with mixed ages becuase I can do more one on one work. I also have more little ones than older so attention span becomes an issue for circletime - no fun if only 2 of 5 are interested so might as well just do it with the two in the middle of play.

There are two philosopies of play. One is adult led and one is child led and most of us find somewhere in the middle as the best way for our day to go.

What I do is break up the blocks of freeplay with a planned activity. So my circletime is a series of 5 minute units where we gather sing a song or read a story or do a feltboard activity and then they go play again. What this does is changes their focus so I time them for lulls in the play or when it is getting out of hand so they calm and then go back to play.

The more practice the kids have with freeplay the better they get at it. At first they do have no idea how to play and entertain themselves and as a result become bahaviour problems but learning to be responsible for their own happiness, learning and social interactions is what I feel my job is more than how much they actually learn academically.

02-15-2012, 08:08 AM
8:45-9:45 story time , ABC's , numbers, what day is it? whats the weather ?
9:45-10:15 free play
10:15-10:45 snack time
10:45-12 we have music/singing/dancing
12pm-1pm we do lunch
1pm-3pm Nap
3pm-3:20 snack
3:20-4pm craft
4pm to pick up we are outdoors weather permitting / other wise this would be continued art/craft & free play.

02-15-2012, 08:26 AM
I am more like Playfelt in that I give a lot of free play time and use that time to teach things and interact one on one with the kids. I like to find teachable moments within their play rather than plan structured activities. So if they are playing with the blocks, I might ask them to sort them by colour or for younger ones, I will just reinforce the names of colours etc. I have 1-3 year olds and I feel it is better for them to have free play than a lot of structured activities at this age. I think kids are overscheduled and over structured these days and before the start school is the one time in their lives where they have an opportunity to direct their own learning and go with their own interests. I do have art time and craft time, but not every day. We sing songs, play games and read tons of stories, but I don't actually do circle time. I do sleeping bunnies etc with the kids who are old enough to enjoy it and the others watch or join in if they want, but it is more spur of the moment rather than scheduled. Each day is different and I go with the kids' interests/moods and we have lots of fun and do lots of learning :)

Play and Learn
02-15-2012, 09:00 AM
Along the same lines of playfelt. I find that learning through play is the best way to have it. I WANT the kids to be kids. The majority of our day is free play, and I have toddlers and preschoolers.

02-15-2012, 10:03 AM
Free time is a great thing for the children, but there are times when I do have to get involved and guide their time, otherwise there are conflicts amongst themselves. Children learn about life through play and need that time to explore and use their imaginations. I do have scheduled time for stories, circle time, arts & crafts, music and science, but most of the time the children are learning important lessons such as conflict resolution through free time play. I agree that the children are sometimes too scheduled and need to be children. Parents seemt to think that the earlier they get them started in an educational program the better their children's chances for a productive future. What I see are children that are very stressed and rely on the adults for direction. Kids need to be kids, get dirty, eat dirt, experience success as well as failure, and just enjoy being the individual they are.

02-19-2012, 10:56 AM
I have freeplay after breakfast until just after 9 and we start our crafting/learning days or our playground or library type trips until lunch. Then after naptime and afternoon snack there is freeplay until pickup time. On rainy days I allow most of the morning to be freeplay. When I started out I was working so hard to make sure I had something planned for every single day but I realized the children really need time to just play and imagine.

If you think about it isn't freeplay what children are doing no matter where you go? We aren't directing their play when we go to the park, you know? We're just directing them a bit for safety reasons. I do give them ideas for imaginative play around the toyroom to keep them going with their games.

Inspired by Reggio
02-19-2012, 11:11 AM
We have a 'routine' that we follow everyday with the main staples of eating / sleeping / outdoor play - however I am another who offers large blocks of uninterpreted child led play .... my environment is set up to be rich in materials that allow children to learn through play at their own levels -which with a multi age grouping is ideal ... creative mediums / sensory, large and small blocks, music, various props for dramatic play, open ended materials, books, puzzles and so forth ... I limit the 'adult led' activity to a minimum and 'as needed' and instead just follow their lead, ask open ended questions to get them to think.

For example rather than doing worksheets for the ABC learning or flashcards or other North American traditions ... I make sure my environment is packed full of 'literacy rich materials' for them to explore on their OWN and for me to reinforce and support as this play naturally occurs ... so add old computer keyboards and joysticks to use in their block play for exploring 'office play' or 'airplane' and what not or add 'menus' to the dramatic play centre, clipboards and pencils for 'taking orders' or 'doing work' or 'being Dr' and the children go through the stages of printing/writing naturally on their own with the wee ones 'scribbling' their order and as they age and develop the connections that letters have shape and meaning they start on their own to want to 'print' proper letters through the exposure through play and reading together during the day.

Aside from the 'staples' of meal times / nap times and going outside daily ... my crew gets a lot of 'democracy' over the program where we vote on what we are doing what we are interested in learning about and so forth - I follow an emergent curriculum. However to aid in an literacy rich environment I do use the Jolly Phonics principles in the program where I purposefully add materials and things to the playroom each month to reinforce exposure to certain letters and sounds they make to 'aid' in literacy - we just do not use the 'worksheets' that come with this program because I find more hands on and natural ways to tie this in as their play unfolds.

02-19-2012, 09:15 PM
7:30- open, play with toys kept on the main floor until everyone arrives. The TV usually has a children's show on, for those that are still "waking up" to sit for a little bit if they are groggy
8:30- move to the playroom, where they are free to play with whatever is set up (a few different "centres")
9:30- clean up playroom, go upstairs, wash up for snack (usually need to do a round of bum changes), serve snack, clean up after
10:15ish- play outside if weather permits, or directed "active play" in the playroom (they have to burn off the energy, to facilitate a good nap time, lol)
11:30- wash up for lunch, coloring and books while I prepare the food, eat and then clean up afterward
12:30- diaper changes, snuggle and a song for each, then lay down for nap/quiet time
2:30/3ish- bum changes again, free play in the playroom
3:30- wash up for snack, serve snack, and clean up after
4:00- craft time/ music time/ directed games (whatever is on the agenda that day)
4:45- clean up play areas, play outside until pick up
5:30- CLOSED

By free-play, I mean that I am at their level, playing "with" them but not "leading" them, necessarily. As others have mentioned, they are making me pretend tea, chasing dinosaurs around me, showing me the tall, tall towers that they are building. Throughout the day we are reading, singing, counting, discussing colors/letters/other concepts.

02-19-2012, 10:59 PM
Give yourself a break! You are all doing great and the children are all doing great. That is what I realized. We have a few outside mornings every week, a few mornings to discuss our letter and number and theme of the week with crafts involved, stories, songs and silly extras.

We don't have to be super-women and we are not even the 1st line (parents), we are the 2nd line you know? I've calmed down and relaxed about this so much over the past few years after the first graduates from my program started JK and are doing so great. Our repititive stories/songs/letters/numbers do work and it all comes out in the end but I just think we worry too much and really don't have to do that.

02-21-2012, 07:58 PM
Give yourself a break! You are all doing great and the children are all doing great.

I've calmed down and relaxed about this so much over the past few years after the first

I'm starting to relax too. I used to spend hours on the computer every night planning, then I created a theme based program and spent months completing it. I tried to do a theme each week (trying to complete EVERY activity) and realized how thin I was stretching myself. now my themes are every two weeks. I plan all my activities quickly every other sunday since the program is completed and if the kids are too busy having fun to do an organized game I let them play. we'll do it later, or not at all. As I tell my parents, structure is introduced, but its not the be all and end all.

I see how intelligent my kids are. The parents and I are doing great with these kids.

02-21-2012, 09:24 PM
Along the same lines of playfelt. I find that learning through play is the best way to have it. I WANT the kids to be kids. The majority of our day is free play, and I have toddlers and preschoolers.

Ditto, I'm like Playfelt too where a lot of our time is free play or outside play with some scheduled activities like arts/crafts, circle time, play doh, etc. thrown in there. I love being outside so we go outside usually twice a day.