The morning is one of the hardest parts of sticking to a schedule, because the children come in at different times. Some have had breakfast and some have not. So, we do what we can to work around getting everyone here and fed.
After breakfast, the kids are divided into play groups by age. The kid's bedroom doors have been made into dutch doors, so I can easily divide the kids, but still be able to see and hear them. The 10 month and 1 year old play in the living room. The 16, 18, and 19 month old play in the toddler room. And, the others play in the 4 year old's room and playroom. This gives me a quick minute to clean the kitchen after breakfast. I do not leave any of them by themselves long, because of safety, but they do need to learn how to play without needing to see an adult all the time.
We have story time every day. Even the babies will sit for a short time, and it makes for good practice. Each day, they sit a little longer and listen a little more. It's pretty neat to watch them learn. Today, we read "If You Give a Pig a Party". I love the "If you give a" series.
We enjoy playing outside as much as possible. When it is a nice day, we spend most of the day outside. The older kids love swinging the most, and the younger ones love finding anything that will make them dirty.
I think the kids love music the most. I turn on a CD, give them instruments, and they go to town singing, dancing, and playing as loudly as possible. If anyone were to come to the door, they would think it was crazy around here.
While the children under 2 take a morning cat nap, the others may watch an educational TV show, or do an art activity. Sometimes they just color, but other times, they paint, glue, cut, or make things. It just all depends on what we get into.
In an earlier post, I've shared how the kids are involved with housework, but please know that most of our day is playtime. I have tried doing a "curriculum", but I feel that these children are learning more from everyday play. What do you do when you play with your kids? You talk about the color, shape, and sounds of objects that are being played with. Teaching is very natural in day to day activities.
I am really big on teaching social skills. They learn how to treat each other with respect. With that, they quit taking toys from each other, and they are willing to share. It may seem crazy to some, but they do learn how to "be have". Discipline is a very small part of our day. Most days, anyway. We all have our bad days, so do children. We deal with that day, and hope for a better one tomorrow.
Ok, discipline. It is hard to discipline other children, because they are not mine, of course. Babies get a little thump on the hand and then moved to something safe. If they are hurting someone else, or throwing a fit, they are put in time out. They have no clue what time out is, but when they come back in to play, they have usually forgotten what they were doing before. They do quickly learn that it's not fun being away from everyone. For the older children, they get timeout, but for repeated bad behavior, or extreme behavior, they do wall squats. This is the worst punishment I do. For those of you who have never done a wall squat, you should try it. We start at 15 seconds, and go up 5 seconds at a time. That's all it takes. It doesn't hurt them, it's just exercise, but they would probably rather have a spanking. It gets the point across quickly, and once a child has done a wall squat for 15 seconds, they only need to be reminded of it. "Do you need to do a wall squat?" It took me a few years to come across this, but while doing P90X, and discussing it with other P90Xers, I decided to try it as a disciplinarian action. We don't spend time threatening time-out all day, once it's done, we can usually get over it, and go back to our regular day.
Everyone has a snack in the morning, lunch, and a snack in the afternoon. We don't graze. They get water anytime they want, and if we are making something special (cupcakes, cookies, etc.), they will get that as a treat.
They all take a 2 1/2 hour nap after lunch. If the older children wake up early, they can sit quietly with a book. I check on the babies every 15-20 minutes, but other than that, nap time is my play time. Once the kids are down, and the kitchen is clean, I try to do anything but laundry and cleaning. I know that I could use that time to catch up on some housework, and sometimes I do, but everyone needs time for themselves. That's my time.
I am very blessed to be given a job that allows me to spend time with my children as well as provide them with others to play with. There are downers, like the fact that I don't get much time off, and unless I am deathly ill, I work, but all in all, it is very much worth the sacrifice. I don't know how long God has me on this daycare journey, but until He shows me a new route, this is what I will do.