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Our Daily Schedule (Well....Roughly....and for GOOD REASON)

I remember my very first semester of Uni when a Lecturer once told me that "Daily schedules are wonderful for keeping the day rolling, but they need to made to be flexible". I diligently recorded that, word for word in my notebook, not realising at the time that this very quote would be replayed over and over in my mind everyday as I prepared my morning in the classroom.

You see, for some of us, including yours truly, we can simply not function without the visual of the day's plan. For me personally, following a schedule gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment It is so satisfying to tick off the day's jobs or goals as I complete them one by one. What if though, this neat little schedule suddenly becomes interrupted and we need to change the order of how we do things throughout the day, or heaven forbid, something needs to eliminated and carried across to tomorrow? {Insert Gasp}. Well, this was me as a learner...Not only at school, but at Uni as well. I HATED it when my day was mixed up, particularly through no fault of my own. Suddenly then, as I wrote those lecturer's words, I realised that FLEXIBILITY in teaching and learning was vital! If I wasn't going to step out of my comfort zone, and become flexible with my teaching, then I was in fact, teaching the children to be INFLEXIBLE!

So how did I do it? I compromised! I held onto my neat, colourful, vibrant, visual ways and used engaging daily schedule cards, tailoring them to suit my class. You see, I still think it's so important and beneficial for a child to see what we are doing so they are able to follow a routine and know what is coming up. It gives them a sense of responsibility for their own learning, and above all, stops a million questions like, "What are we doing next?" and "When is it time for...?"

So how is this being flexible? My goal is to ensure that every so often I mix up the schedule. I may change the order of activities every couple of weeks, or omit an activity altogether. I don't do it every session of course, otherwise I'm defeating the purpose. The point is to establish routine, then challenge it and ultimately challenge the children to become flexible learners.

The results are amazing! Some children completely breakdown when they enter the room and see the change. Their little eyes widen and you get, "Why are we...?" "Why aren't we...?" Once I explain, often making up creative reasons, the children get it, and life continues. I should mention here that not ALL children are worried or phased by change, some don't even notice, others are actually stimulated by the idea of a fresh day, the unknown is exciting for them. Win-Win!

Every task, every experience, every moment that I create for these children at Tightrope Learning is to prepare them for Big School. Let me tell you from decades of experience, there are a RIDICULOUS amount of interruptions throughout EVERY day at school. From assemblies thrown in randomly to assemblies being cancelled. From messages from the office which may take longer, to issues on the playground that cut into quality teaching time. From teachers needing to leave school for whatever reason and as a result, having 10 extra children in your class. From a surprise practice Fire Drill to a handful of the children in your class needing to attend a last minute rehearsal or sporting event. Whatever the interruption, the day needs to go on and most importantly, the CHILDREN SIMPLY NEED TO COPE! Interrupting my schedule during school readiness classes helps prepare the children for this.

Below is an example of a "normal" session schedule at Tightrope Learning.

In a couple of weeks I may choose to start the session with Gross Motor or I might cut out free play. I may choose to make the Yoga session double the time or have the Literacy block out in a different space. My goal is simple ..... continue the learning under different conditions. The children will understand that the day will go

on, they will learn, they will have fun doing it, they will be safe, they will be loved, the sun will still set that night, and a new day will begin tomorrow!

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