A Reflection on the New Kindergarten Curriculum and Flow of the Day (includes timetable and weekly plan)

Social media like Twitter, Facebook, and educator blogs have many educators raving about the front matter in the new 2016 Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum. The response has been a resounding, “yes, we agree”. I’m appreciative of how the ministry has placed a high importance on the whole child, following the lead of the child, and seeing the child as competent, curious, and capable. I thought I’d share what I value in the curriculum with regards to the flow of the day. I appreciate that the document has taken into consideration creating a flow of the day that is responsive to the varying needs and development of children. It gives us, as educators, lots to consider and question while planning a fluid and flexible program. I’m going to attempt to highlight some of the key questions and thinking from the document that have instructed our planning and developing of our flow of the day. Hopefully, this will give you something to reflect on in your teams practice and perhaps you can share below in the comment sections some of your ideas around planning the flow of the day.

Some Questions to Consider while Co-Creating the Flow of the Day

The curriculum document highlights many important factors for kindergarten teams with regards to co-creating a flow of the day. My teaching partner and myself were thrilled that the document stresses the importance of the team(Teacher and DECE/RECE) collaborating together to develop a flow of the day that is best for the children. Some questions that may be beneficial for teams include:

  • How can we minimize transitions and length of transitions?
  • How can we incorporate large blocks of time for play that are necessary to deepen learning?
  • How can we integrate all four frames throughout the day?
  • How can we provide small-group learning as opportunities arise from play?
  • How can we co-create visual schedules with children?

What Admin Can Keep in Mind with Regards to Scheduling

  • How many educators/adults do our youngest learners see in a day/week?
  • How can we minimize transitions for our youngest learners? (recess, gym, library, etc.)
  • Is the children’s large blocks of learning time interrupted by teacher coverage and duty?

Being Responsive to Children’s Needs with Considerations to the Flow of the Day

  • Children are able to eat when their body needs it.

Consider free flow snack where children can eat when they are hungry. Perhaps a snack table?

  • Children are able to rest when their body needs it.

Consider the environment as the third teacher incorporates spaces where children can rest. Children can rest in a variety of different ways and may benefit from spaces like reading nooks, yoga areas, meditation provocations, soft furnishings, breathing strategies posters/books, sensory tubs, light tables, outdoors, etc.

  • Creating a flexible flow of the day and willing to adapt the schedule as needed to the changing needs of children.

Consider times in the day that children spend in whole-group learning. At the beginning of the year our youngest learners are being requested to learn in large-group setting some for the very first time. Encouraging them to be successful with whole group learning starts with small time frames and may increase in response to their development. I would encourage educators to reflect on the amount of outdoor learning time children are exposed to and when it happens. Is the outdoor environment a place where children can have large blocks of time for play and learning? Is their a way to support outdoor inquiries and wonders? Some children self-regulate best outdoors and they are in a state where they are calm and ready to learn. Is the outdoor learning time at the end of the day and therefore we are not able to use the benefit of this ready state of learning because school’s over?

“How well students do in school can be determined by how well they are able to self-regulate.” -Stuart Shanker 

Dr. Stuart Shanker’s book, “Calm, Alert, and Learning” has lots of great information on self-regulation.

I appreciate the information about children with special education needs right after the flow of the day in the document. “Fairness is not sameness” is mentioned and I believe that it can be kept in mind when developing the flow of the day as well. Some children with special education needs may require accommodations or modifications to their flow of the day. Changes to their schedule might evolve over time so that an individual with special need’s day might look more and more like the class’ flow of the day. Are their sensory breaks at an opportune time so that they don’t miss large blocks of play and learning? Minimizing transitions may be especially important for such individuals.

Kinderland’s Flow of the Day

My teaching partner and I are continually reflecting on our flow of the day to ensure we are being responsive to the needs of the children while trying to create a program that is connected, rich, and meaningful. We have been thinking about what we can repeat, rethink, and/or remove. Below is a copy of our class’ flow of the day. We have tried to keep many of these considerations in mind while co-creating our flow of the day. Some of the many factors in creating this timetable is minimizing the amount of transitions and transition times. When there are fewer minutes spent transitioning, there are longer opportunities for children to delve richly into their play and learning.  Some of our transitions are done through song as we’ve experienced many gains being met through song and music. We also place a high importance on outdoor play and learning and intentionally scheduled large blocks of time outdoors for play and inquiry. Our play is always book ended by group meetings or circles. The initial group meeting is to inspire learning. Then we play, learn and inquire. Lastly, we meet again to share, reflect, and expand learning. The times below are flexible except for recess (for duty) and gym (DECE lunch and teacher prep). When children are done eating, one teaching partner takes the children outside. We are striving to create a flow of the day that is not static with timing, but is flexible and responsive to the needs of the children. We believe that routine and structure is important for many children. So we ensure that the flow of the day remains constant and it’s just the timing that will fluctuate. Play and learning can happen in many ways such as play, inquiry support times, small groups, mini-lessons, guided support, and outdoors. Thanks for stopping by. We’d love to hear your thoughts and insights on flow of the day. Feel free to comment below.

Kind regards,

Mel Maxwell

 

For more information on flow of the day:

https://www.ontario.ca/document/kindergarten-program-2016/considerations-program-planning#approach

http://www.edugains.ca/newsite/fulldaykinder/videoflowotday.html 

 

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4 thoughts on “A Reflection on the New Kindergarten Curriculum and Flow of the Day (includes timetable and weekly plan)

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your reflections! I am curious about your Play-Based Learning Centers with Math Focus. Do you set out different centers for use during this time? Are the children freely flowing between centers or are they assigned to small groups? I am trying to incorporate more small group work into my classroom and I’d love to hear more about how it works in yours! Thanks so much 🙂

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    1. Hi Mrs. Vincent, Yes, we set out different math provocations/tubs/games for the children to self-select. However, we intentionally introduce these provocations/tubs/games with next steps in mind for various children and so we invite them to play with us in small-groups. We have a focused math time (all children split in two ability-based groups one with DECE and one with teacher) where we include time to introduce these provocations/tubs/games (some open-ended and some with guidelines as to how to play). Hope this helps!

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  2. During Outdoor Learning, could you please explain what your Independent Inquiry Support looks like (how the teachers engage with the students) and what steps you take for this? Ty!

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    1. Hi Madame S,
      Our team has taken a playful approach to being outside with our youngest learners. We encourage them to think and wonder. We often say, “hmmm… I wonder how…”. Children often make discoveries outside. If a child says, “the clouds look like it might rain.” We ask them, “I wonder how you know it might rain?” “I wonder what clues tell you that?” “What do you notice about the sky that tells you it might rain?” We have an outdoor learning toolbox for such learning opportunities. It has clipboards, writing utensils, baggies and containers to collect outdoor treasures in, etc. We ask children to draw/write what they observe (notice). As they do this we use our devices (phones and iPads) to document their thinking. We write what they say and label the learning. We read back to them these “learning stories” to see if they want to add anything. We give them opportunities to share with others and perhaps they will expand on their thinking. We might bring out blue play dough and pics of clouds as an ‘invitation to learn’ so they can represent clouds in various ways, or a science experiment on rain. Some resources we use to deepen our understanding on inquiry and outdoor learning are: “Getting Started with Student Inquiry” http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_StudentInquiry.pdf, “Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood” by Susan Stacey, and “Natural Curiosity” http://www.naturalcuriosity.ca/pdf/NaturalCuriosityManual.pdf. Best wishes!

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