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How Long to Schedule Centers


Center time is a major staple of a preschool program. And if you are running a play-based classroom like I am... free-play centers is the key ingredient!

But have you ever wondered.... how long should I schedule time in centers?

If you are half day program vs. a whole day program your center time schedule is going to look quite a bit different.  Most teachers find themselves breaking center time up into two or three different play times - depending on how long the day is.

But, is there a recommendation?  A set of guidelines?

Here is what I found... ECERS (Early Childhood Environmental Education Rating System), a rating scale for helping preschools and daycares improve their environmental education offerings, has a set of recommendations based on the length of the day, in their scheduling checklist.

Super helpful right?

I've simplified the chart for you here:

So, based on the chart above, for my part-time 4.5 hour day with my preschoolers I should have a total of 90 minutes of free center play.  We actually do 60 minutes of un-interrupted time in the morning and then another 30-40 minutes after lunch.

But, I have to say... it's is incredibly reassuring that my schedule meets the recommendations because 60 minutes sounds and feels like a long block of time. It's nice to know even though it seems like a lot - it's right on track.

So, tell me... do you have some schedule changing to do with the amount of time you have scheduled for centers?  Or are you right on track?

P.S. I have a whole Center Guide that includes this chart and so much more that you can grab for free. Grab it below:

Preschool Center Guide

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