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How do you make a lesson plan for a daycare toddler?

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    One of the most important parts of teaching is being prepared, and this includes lesson planning. Whether you are one who plans a year with a detailed scope and sequence or one who plans a day or week at a time, having a plan helps keep teaching deliberate and focused on what the children need. And with a few simple steps and the right resources, you can be intentional in your planning, offering purposeful learning opportunities. Here you will find the top 10 tips for writing and executing preschool lesson plans.

    Things to consider when writing preschool Lesson Plans

    There are many ways to write preschool lesson plans, and the chances are that any preschool teacher will try out a few different approaches before settling on one. However, lesson planning can be time-consuming, so finding an approach that works because children’s education depends on good lesson plans with excellent execution.

    Thoughtfully curated lesson plans will ensure children have fun learning in developmentally appropriate ways, all while hitting benchmarks to prepare them for kindergarten.

    A lesson plan is your guide to teaching a class session. Whether you make one yourself or start with a premade template, your lesson plan sets the content and structure of what you will teach and how. 

    Lesson plans cover three key elements of learning activity:

    • Learning objectives (why the lesson is taking place and what kids should know by the end)
    • Methodology (what specific activities and materials will be used)
    • Assessment (how you will check the students’ understanding and the lesson’s efficacy)

    Before Writing Preschool Lesson Plans

    The following are some important things to consider before writing lesson plans for preschoolers.

    • Think about the big picture. 
      • What are the goals for the year? A carefully written scope and sequence that is developmentally appropriate help keep teachers and parents on track. Think of it as little monthly goals that build upon one another to reach the big goals by the end of the school year.
    • Be knowledgeable of your students’ current skills
      • Know what skills they should be proficient in by the end of the school year. To write useful lesson plans, you establish your students’ skill sets in the different areas of development, including oral language and reading readiness, number awareness and math readiness, gross and fine motor skills, and social and emotional development.
    • Have a flexible schedule. 
      • Schedules are important for children. They help children feel prepared by anticipating order and routines. But schedules do not have to be set in stone. Often the best schedules for young children allow enough flexibility for children to have a say. And, of course, if something in the schedule isn’t working, then change it!
    • Allow for student choices. 
      • Children love to make their own choices, and allowing them to make choices encourages independence and critical thinking. It is important not to eliminate those choices when lesson planning for preschoolers, which is why free choice centres have become so popular.
    • Keep it developmentally appropriate. 
      • Not every teaching strategy is appropriate for preschoolers. They have shorter attention spans and a greater need to move and play than older children, so keeping activities and games developmentally appropriate should be a top priority.

    Writing Preschool Lesson Plans

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    The following are some important things to consider while writing lesson plans for preschoolers.

    • Identify purpose. 
      • If a lesson or activity is going to be included, it needs to have a specific purpose within the scope and sequence of skills. When choosing an activity to include in your lesson plans, ask yourself what skills it targets. And don’t forget that social and emotional skills, most often practised through play, are of huge value to the development of preschoolers.
    • Keep activities simple. 
      • The chances are that if you have to write out preschool activities in paragraphs of detail, you’ve chosen the wrong activity. Don’t underestimate the value of a simple activity. If preschoolers need something more complex, they will show you through their play. However, a single activity still shouldn’t take pages to write up.
    • Plan around student interest. 
      • Let’s face it, and if a child isn’t interested, the offered activity won’t be effective. When planning, choose themes of high interest to the children in your class and consider how favourite activities can be incorporated into the theme.
    • Choose an approach. 
      • Play-based or skills-based? Teacher-directed or child-led? Or a modge podge of everything. You will most likely find that your approach will vary based on the objective, and that is ok. The important thing to remember is to choose an approach that is appropriate for young learners.
    • Write it down. 
      • Use a template to record your ideas for your preschool lessons. You can add as much or as little detail as you want, but be sure it gets written down, even if it is just a list. You’ll thank me.

    Other Lesson Plan Components

    Learning Objectives

    A teacher creating a lesson plan must begin with the end in mind. Clearly defining your desired learning outcomes lets you effectively plan and prioritize your activities, as well as to measure your success. Of course, you need to know what your students will learn, but you also need to understand why it’s important for them to understand it and how they will demonstrate that they have learned it. That way, your activities will be tied into the relevant learning domains, and you can easily assess progress.

    To plan learning objectives, think about:

    • The topic of the lesson
    • What your students likely already know about the topic
    • What do you want students to know at the end of the activity?
    • The most important takeaways, and what is of secondary importance
    • What will be gained in each learning domain as a result

    Related Requirements

    Once you know your learning objectives, tie them into your state’s early learning standards, your Montessori curriculum, or any other requirements that may be relevant. That way, you can document your compliance over time.

    Lesson Materials

    In conjunction with developing your lesson procedure, detail what you’ll need to complete the lesson: handouts, visual aids, arts and crafts supplies, learning toys, etc. Then you can ensure everything is on hand well before the lesson begins.

    Lesson Procedure

    The lesson procedure describes what you’ll do during the lesson. This should be the longest and most detailed part of your lesson plan. Your lesson procedure will address each learning objective so you can plan activities that will effectively help your students reach those objectives.

    A good lesson procedure includes:

    • Introduction or motivation, to get students interested in and thinking about the topic
    • Learning activities to help students explore the topic from multiple perspectives and meet different learning needs
    • An opportunity for students to practice or apply what they learned
    • Reflection activities where students summarize what they learned and why it matters
    • Progress assessment according to your objectives
    • A conclusion and preview, where you summarize, answer lingering questions and link the lesson to past and future activities.
    • Thoroughly prioritized lesson objectives will guide you in time management. Make a note of what parts of the lesson are crucial and cannot be skipped, what can be omitted if there is not enough time, and what can be added in if there is more time than expected.

    Evaluation & Assessment

    Depending on your objectives and the needs of your students, different evaluation methods may work for your lesson. For example, quizzes and homework are common evaluation methods for older kids, but less formal assessment methods are often appropriate for younger kids. This usually means making notes on the students’ classroom behaviour and how well they completed the activities. Your assessments should be objective, recording facts, not opinions. Report on the expected milestones in each learning domain according to your state standards. You can also involve parents in your assessments by sharing learning outcomes via a parent engagement application. 

    Reflection

    Although it’s part of a lesson plan, a reflection takes place after the lesson. By reflecting on your lesson and its success, your lesson plans can also become records of your teaching. After every lesson, take a few minutes to ask how well you met your learning objectives and time goals. What went right? What could be improved for next time?

    Why is Lesson Planning Important?

    Planning lessons in advance is indispensable for teachers. A well-planned lesson ensures you are covering all the necessary ground, making effective use of time and meeting the needs of every learning style.

    Your child care lesson planning will let you provide a structured learning experience for your students and make sure that they receive adequate opportunities across all learning domains. And an expertly planned lesson enables you to handle the unexpected with grace, including seizing on spontaneous learning opportunities.

    Lesson Planning Tips For Your Center

    Plan Alternative Activities (Just in Case)

    Outdoor time rained out? Ran out of glue sticks? Power outage in the classroom? Taking the time to identify how your child care lesson plan can be modified and having a few activities on hand for times when your lesson is unexpectedly impossible will let you be sure your students have a positive learning experience no matter what.

    Assess the Needs of Your Learners

    Each student progresses through developmental milestones at their rate and has their learning style. Carefully tracking students’ progress lets you understand their individual learning needs, which means you can plan lessons that help students reach their full potential.

    Make Lessons Fun and Challenging

    Fun and challenges are equally important aspects of learning, and when education is at its best, they go hand in hand. Kids love activities that push them to grow and let them exercise their creative abilities simultaneously. And sometimes, a challenge can be fun for its own sake, giving children the opportunity to prove to themselves and others that they have mastered a new skill.

    Organize Themed Lessons into Units

    Academic units are a bridge between the broad curriculum and the day-to-day lesson plan. A theme gives kids a sense of continuity, helping them connect what they have learned in the past and know what to expect in the future. Units join lessons into a learning arc with defined outcomes and help you set milestones throughout the year.

    Value Engagement over Direct Instruction 

    Most child development experts agree that children learn through active engagement with the world, not just passively absorbing information. Play-based learning is key for kids to develop their understanding of concepts and gain confidence in their abilities. Plus, it keeps learning fun, so kids will maintain a love of learning throughout their lifetimes. 

    What are the different types of preschool programs?

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    Once you have spent time thinking about the needs of your particular students and centre, it’s time to do some research. There is a seemingly endless stream of preschool philosophies, and you need to spend some time looking at different options. I’ve outlined a couple below to get you started.

    Play-Based

    • Much of the class time comprises free-choice centres (a kitchen area, a reading nook, a sensory table, a block area, etc.). 
    • Teachers may incorporate academic skills through theme-based activities.
    • The main goal is to develop social and emotional skills by teacher modelling.
    • The teacher acts as a facilitator of learning rather than a lecturer of direct instruction.
    • The focus is on the process rather than the product. 
    • Teachers work hard to create an atmosphere of discovery, exploration and appropriate risk-taking.

    Academic

    • The class is very structured, routine-oriented and primarily teacher-led.
    • Children spend most of the day learning letters and sounds, colours, shapes, and numbers and participate in handwriting practice and other academics. Learning drills, completing worksheets, and a few art projects are also part of the routine, structured day.
    • Children spend a fair amount of their day sitting and “working” but normally allow some unstructured time. It’s just that there will be less of this than in play-based preschools.
    • Academic-based programs are more about the product and outcome than the process.
    • This design is aimed at preparing students for kindergarten.

    Reggio Emilia

    • Children’s learning is based on their interests.
    • Teachers and parents are co-learners.
    • The classroom environment is a “third teacher”.
    • Children’s learning progress is documented.
    • Teachers focus on the many ways kids learn.

    Montessori

    • Classrooms that include children of different ages.
    • An environment that emphasizes responsibility and self-discipline.
    • A curriculum that emphasizes independence.
    • An orderly classroom with prepared workstations.
    • A teacher who guides rather than directs.

    Emergent

    • Emergent curriculum is defined as a process where teachers plan activities and projects based on the specific group of children they are working with, taking into account their skills, needs, and interests.
    • It requires observation, documentation, creative brainstorming, flexibility and patience.
    • Rather than starting with a lesson plan which requires a “hook” to get the children interested, the emergent curriculum starts with the observation of the children for insight into their interests.
    • It is rooted in the work of noted early childhood theorists like Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky.
    • Teachers who employ emergent curriculum understand that the trajectory of learning happens as a consequence of the children’s genuine interest, response, and connection to the subject.

    Waldorf

    • Predictable rhythms through the day, week and year.
    • Meaningful, practical work such as cooking, baking, gardening, handwork and domestic activity.
    • Awareness that young children learn through imitation.
    • Opportunities for self-initiated play with simple play materials.

    Building the curriculum

    Now that you’ve decided which direction you want to go, it’s time to determine how you will build your curriculum. There are many different paths to follow to create a curriculum that works for you. Do you want to write your curriculum? Do you want to purchase a curriculum? Do you want to combine store-bought with your curriculum?

    However you decide to craft your curriculum, you might want to look out for a couple of things.

    • Is the curriculum developmentally appropriate? Is it based on research in child development? Does it take into account how preschool-aged children learn?
    • Is the curriculum adaptable to different ages and abilities?
    • Does it address all of the different learning styles children may have?

    How to write your daycare curriculum?

    However, if you choose to create your curriculum, you will need to research the activities that work best for you.

    • An option is to purchase any of the large numbers of preschool curriculum books that exist in the market today. Some of them have lesson plans already laid out for you, and others have different activity ideas for you to mix and match. 
    • You can also search for activities online. Sites like Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers have been helpful to me.

    However, you decide to build your curriculum, make sure it fits your needs and the needs of your students. Remember, a curriculum can and should be something that keeps evolving and changing with your program. If something doesn’t work for a particular group of students, keep looking and trying until you find something that does.

    A lesson plan is your guide to teaching a class session. Whether you make one yourself or start with a premade template, your lesson plan sets the content and structure of what you will teach and how.

    Children can benefit cognitively from the activities and learning games offered at a quality child care center. They will learn language skills, colors and numbers, and more. In addition, children learn and develop thinking skills by playing and exploring the world through their curiosity.

    On average, most children take about three to six months to fully adapt to a new situation. The more your child engages in the daycare facility and any activities they offer, the faster they will adapt. In fact, some children have adjusted to daycare in as quickly as two weeks!

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