As summer vacation is approaching, I'm wanting to know of a schedule/routine that would be good for my 3 year old to keep him learning like he is in preschool.

Preschool schedules will vary depending on the type of preschool you choose. Most preschools follow a routine that provides structure and predictably, while programming in plenty of time for free play and independent discovery. A somewhat typical day at preschool might involve 15-20 minutes of free play while the students arrive. Then, the teacher will usually call everyone together for "circle time." The first circle of the day often involves a song, the calendar, daily weather, and a brief overview of the concepts (letters, shapes, numbers, etc.) that the teacher plans to cover that day. There may be an appropriate "theme" to the activities for the day or week, such as "the ocean," "summertime," or "barnyard animals." After circle time, the children will usually go to different centers (such as play dough, puzzles, games). The teacher may cycle each child through every center or give the children a choice of activities. Often, this is also an opportunity for the teacher to work with small groups on the craft or science experiment of the day. The rest of the day is usually filled with story time, art time, and music and movement time. Usually there is another period of free play, which may be outdoors if the weather allows. Throughout the day, preschoolers need to use their listening skills and contribute to keeping the classroom neat by putting away toys and supplies. Depending on the length of the day, there will also be time for snack and/or lunch and possibly nap time. While educational philosophies differ, most early childhood education experts emphasize that young children learn best through play and hands-on activities. The summer is also a wonderful time to take educational field trips to local farms, museums, aquariums, zoos, and more. Keep in mind that preschool also offers an opportunity for social learning. Free library programs and trips to the playground give children the opportunity to practice listening to directions, sharing, and being friendly.

Candace Lindemann

Children's Author & Education Consultant

Candace Lindemann is a published children’s writer and educational consultant. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You can also find Candace blogging at While Candace’s degrees prepared her for a career in education, she’s found that the best preparation for parenting is on-the-job training.