A guide to planning lessons for preschools

Lesson planning is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of a preschool teacher’s job. Not only does it enable them to chart out the activities for the coming weeks, but also assists them in setting the goals and milestones for their students. Additionally, they also play an important role in developing teaching approaches that could best support the children’s overall development and learning.

A well-written lesson plan lets the teacher establish skill sets to be achieved by the kids in different development areas including language development, number perception, cognitive abilities, and psychological and social development. Each preschool lesson is crafted around a specific development area, and each of them is divided into several milestones. Students are assessed for each of these milestones, and their progress is evaluated accordingly. The submissions made by students help the teacher better understand their needs, strengths, and weaknesses. This also plays a crucial role in helping them come up with assessment plans.

A preschool teacher needs to be mindful of kids with special needs. A pre-k child can face either a developmental delay or a developmental disorder. A delay encountered by a kid in any growth area is referred to as a developmental delay. Whereas, a developmental disorder is when an area of growth is disrupted for a kid. Therefore, taking all these factors into consideration is important while creating lesson plans for preschool kids.

There are different approaches to designing lesson plans for preschoolers, and any childcare educator is likely to test a few different ones before committing to one. Because effective teaching strategies with great execution are critical for preparing children for kindergarten, finding a method that works is essential.

Here are some of the things to consider, before you start planning lessons for your classroom

Define your goals

Establishing broad learning goals provides a framework for lesson plans and assessment methods. Well-planned goals help both teachers and parents stay on track and enable them to provide support to the kids whenever necessary. Ideally, goals are divided into the following categories for kids attending preschools –

Physical goals: This deals with the development of gross motor skills in children. This could range from teaching kids how to hold a pencil, how to paint using a brush, to how to tie their shoes and fasten their coat buttons. The aim here is to help children develop agile mobility while helping them explore their environments.

Social and interpersonal goals: Also known as social competence, these skills teach preschoolers how to interact and communicate with their classmates. These skills tend to strengthen a kid’s attention span, ability to follow instructions, and listening capacity. Social and interpersonal skills are usually fostered through group activities that involve collaboration, patience, and problem-solving.

Cognitive goals: Cognitive development deals with the growth of reasoning, thinking, and understanding amongst preschoolers. These goals incite excitement for learning in the kids and familiarize them with concepts such as size, time, distance, fact, and fiction. In order to achieve this, teachers can get the kids involved with puzzles, math games, and quizzes, making them learn their age, address, and phone numbers.

Language goals: These goals aim to instill a readiness for reading in the kids while focusing on their sentence formation. Through these, teachers aim to help the children build a stronger vocabulary and help them participate in conversations. Engaging in role play and skits could be one way of achieving this.

Know your students

It’s important to be aware of the kid’s creative competence and chart out the skills you want them to master by the year-end. In order to construct meaningful lesson plans, teachers need to first identify the skill sets in several areas of development that they want their students to develop. These skills range from language development and reading readiness, number perception and math capability, gross and fine motor abilities, and psychological and social development.

You also need to consider which age group you are planning the curriculum for as children belonging to different age groups have different needs. Let’s take a look at the different age brackets and the ideal developmental milestones for them:

– Children aged between 2-3 years should begin their learning with the very basics. These include learning how to take turns, playing make-believe, and getting familiar with playing and speaking.

– For kids belonging to the age group of 3-5 years, the teachers should focus on helping them recognize colors, teaching them how to express affection, and kickstarting other activities such as jumping, hopping, etc.

– Since the kids in the 6-8 years bracket are comparatively more seasoned and aware, the teachers’ aim should be getting them accustomed to socializing, developing friendships, and getting them involved in other sports activities.

Choose routines over schedules

Schedules give children a sense of order and help them anticipate what’s coming next. Children thrive in predictability. However, it is equally important to make room for flexibility in young children’s schedules. This is why choosing a daily classroom routine over a daily classroom schedule could help you create a predictable yet flexible environment.

A schedule is more ordered and dictated by time, whereas a routine is more procedural and less structured. Children often get frustrated by schedules because they are made to move on to the next activity before they feel they are done or are asked to continue an activity for more than their mental capacity or level of interest allows. A routine provides for more freedom, which reduces dissatisfaction and lets children learn things at their own pace and interest.

Give children the freedom to choose

Offering children the opportunities to make their own choices does not just instill a sense of independence in them, but also encourages critical thinking. It is equally important to factor in this aspect while you plan and create lessons for your classroom.

One such example is free choice centers, which are less structured classrooms where children are allowed to pick the activities of their choice from a list provided by the teachers. They allow kids to play and develop their scholastic, imaginative, and cognitive abilities. Free play also allows you to observe your students and work with those who require additional assistance.

Developmentally appropriate lessons

The needs and capabilities of every kid in a classroom vary. Every child who enters a preschool has different strengths compared to their peers. While some may have good attention spans, others might feel the need to move and play. While one might enjoy going through picture books, others might face trouble with social interaction. Therefore, planning activities and lessons that are focused on and relevant for the developmental growth of each of them becomes crucial. To achieve this, you must understand, identify and define the fundamental learning goals for each child individually.

A good preschool teacher should know how to maintain reasonable expectations from the kids while providing them with the right mix of challenges, assistance, sensitivity, and stimulation. When teachers and parents collaborate, they can come together to support and enhance the child’s learning through observation and the right guidance.

Illumine lets you create daily or weekly lesson plans and share them with parents at a click of a button. The platform makes it easy to keep parents informed about what their child is being taught at school, hence enabling them to offer the support and guidance their kids need.

Lessons can be sent out either as a learning experience or as an assignment. For every assignment given out, parents can make submissions directly from the app and teachers can also grade them by awarding stars to the students from the app.

Tips for writing effective lesson plans for preschool children

Define the purpose

Every lesson or activity that is being included in your curriculum should have a purpose within the scope and sequence of skills you’d want the children to achieve. Before adding an activity to your lesson plan, figure out what purpose does it serve and which skill development does it target. Make it a point to factor in and focus on social and emotional skills as well, as they play a huge part in the overall development of the kids.

Keep activities simple

A simple activity with kids can go a long way. It’s a great way to start helping and encouraging kids to build different skill sets. If the kids require more complex activities, they’ll be surely reflecting it to you through their play. However, overcomplicating tasks could lead to confusion amongst the kids and might not produce the same result you desired.

Use student interests to plan

The best way to ensure that your lesson plans for preschool kids are effective is to plan activities that your students are interested in. Choose themes that will pique the interest of the students in your class, and think about how their favorite activities might be incorporated into the theme as well.

Play-based approach

Make sure to incorporate enough playtime while laying out your lesson plans. Equip your classroom with a range of learning activities, from building blocks, musical instruments, art supplies, and more. Give your students at least 45 minutes of uninterrupted playtime to ensure the best learning experience.

Write it down

There are various ways to go about writing lesson plans for preschoolers. While some teachers prefer writing on an hourly basis, others opt for writing according to their teaching subjects. The difference is also in the writing styles they go for, some might lay it out in paragraphs, while others might just sum it up in pointers. Figure out what works the best for you, and go with it.

Make sure to include key details such as the supplies required, the activity outline, and the goal. It’s critical to understand the “why” underlying the lesson. The goal will help you understand the ‘’why’’ underlying the lesson and will keep you on track.