Classroom Procedures Checklist

Procedure: a series of actions conducted in a certain order or manner.

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As preschool teachers, we do procedures all day long.

It may not feel like we’re doing some super technical medical procedure, but we often find ourselves carrying out a series of actions in a certain order day after day.

Take hand washing for example, there is certain way to do it. If we dried our hands before adding soap, the soap would be less effective. Just like those kiddos that wash their hands before using the bathroom <huh?!

Procedures are a way of life when teaching preschool. We stick to a schedule and with that schedule comes things we do everyday, the same way.

In the past, I have always taught procedures. I modeled how, we practiced together, I reminded a lot. But, last year I decided to finally take the time to create visuals to go along with my procedures.

Why, oh why did I not do this sooner?!? Ya know when you say the same directions over and over again and you feel like you might just lose your mind? Or, maybe you even put those directions into a little tune and sing them, which totally helps- but then one day you up and forget the tune and make a new one up that is totally less effective <yep- do this a lot.

Visual procedures solve this. By giving students a place to look for the answer, we are encouraging independence (bonus: you aren’t having to say the directions over and over again). By using visuals students can see it- not just hear it and they take themselves through the steps.

Now, don’t get me wrong…. I didn’t just put these visuals around the room and POOF children were doing everything by themselves. They aren’t filled with any sort of magic… sadly. I still had to teach the procedures, using the visuals. It wasn’t any less work up front. But, I will tell you- it was less work on the back end.

To start, I hung the visual where it made the most sense. Bathroom procedure in the bathroom, entering the classroom procedure right outside our door (kid-eye level) and carpet time procedures by the… you guessed it.. carpet.

Then, as the procedure arose during our day, I took time to walk through the steps on the procedure cards. I still modeled them. I still said them aloud. But, now I also had a visual component for my non-readers.

I ran through the procedures by modeling, saying them aloud and pointing out the pictures for several weeks. Like I said, it is still work on the front end.

But, a couple weeks in and they had it down. Just like the did the years before. But, the difference now was that with the visuals, if a procedure was forgotten (say over a long break) it could be easily picked back up by pointing out the visual procedure.

You know, something else interesting happened when I put up these procedure cards…. I found some of my students were using them as little checklists. “Ok, I did that… now I need to…”. Um, how awesome is that? Seriously- as a list maker myself I understand the value of checking something off a list. These procedure cards had given that to some of my more type A personality kiddos! And…. they were doing it independently (ie: without needing me and my guidance through every step- whew!).

So, needless to say I am now a big fan of visual procedure cards. I had always had a visual schedule and knew the importance and benefits of that- so why it took me so long to implement visual procedure cards- who knows… But, I’m glad I did!

Let’s dig into the nitty gritty-


I’m pretty sure I dove head first into the WHY of visual procedure cards above. But, to give a cave man definition as to why: Less work- more independent children. Need I say more?

What activities need a visual procedure?

Well, if it has more than 1-2 simple steps and happens often- then, it might need a visual procedure. Do you find yourself saying the same thing again and again everyday during the same time of day? That time of day probably needs a visual procedure.

What procedures do you teach?

Um… a lot of them. #truth. But, in all honesty- I like to make my life easier later in the year- so I visual procedure up a ton of things!

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An Open Letter to those Who Think we Play All Day

“Oh, you’re a preschool teacher? That must be so fun getting to play with little kids all day!”

This is a statement preschool teachers hear a lot. Leading us to believe that we are just glorified babysitters (I for one, have never sat on a baby- so, there’s that).

The world sees early childhood teachers as kid wrangling (okay, we do that), snot-wiping (yeah, we do that too), boo-boo kissing (fine, yes…that too) adults pretending to be real educators.

We just play all day… right?

Oh, dear sweet society… you are so wrong.

Let me throw a little research your way….

Data compiled by the Rauch Foundation found that 85 percent of the brain is developed by the age of five years old.

5 years old, which is before students even enter a traditional school setting.

Early Childhood Professionals (aka- preschool teachers) know a lot about this. While it may seem like we are putting out some toys, singing the ABCs and do arts and crafts… we are actually crafting a space and experiences that allow children to explore. When children explore, children learn.

Those that work with the youngest of children (arguable) are the best at understanding and encouraging learning through the way the brain was intended. Through play and exploration. Who sets up these experiences for exploration? We do. We plan, prep and execute. There is thought and purpose behind everything we do. There is no just putting out some toys and hoping for the best.

Our knowledge of child development guides our plans. We have goals for our students, we collect and use data. We aren’t just winging it. But, we also know how to be flexible and creative- because let’s be honest… when working with little humans not everything goes as planned!

But, it is not all about academics. We teach so many social skills that people in general need to be successful. No, hitting William because he took your toy is not a good way to handle the situation. When you are a grown-up, it is called assault. Instead we teach children how to handle those situations now. Oh, and don’t get me started on coat zipping, pants buttoning or snack opening… someone has to teach those things - parents and preschool teachers!

You see, we are on the front lines. We are the first school-like experience children have. We are the groundwork (your welcome Kindergarten teachers). We work to instill a life-long love of learning…talk about a lot of pressure!

Preschool teachers are the unsung heroes of the education world.

But, truthfully… it isn’t about us.

It is about the children.

Preschool teachers everywhere aren’t doing the job because it pays- we do it because we love it. We do it because we get to see the growth of a child right in front of our eyes. It is our passion.

So, the next time you hear someone say “Oh, those preschool teachers just play all day” - serve them up a little knowledge on the subject. The world and our children in it will be better for it.

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