In HighScope infant and toddler settings, caregivers maintain the overall routine as consistently as possible, while flexing it to accommodate individual children's natural rhythms and temperaments. Although each HighScope program decides on the routine that works best for its setting, schedule, and children, the segments described below are always included during the day. It is up to the program to decide the length and order of the segments, whether particular segments will be repeated, and the content of the experiences in each segment.
Parts of the Daily Schedule
Arrivals and departures
Team planning time
Each child's individual schedule is anchored around a primary caregiver who strives to understand the child's individual temperament and assists with smooth transitions between segments. Having this caregiver as a "home base" provides the very young child with a sense of security while away from home.
Parts of the Daily Schedule
Arrivals and Departures — Caregivers work with parents to ensure that arrivals and departures are pleasant and reassuring for children. These times allow children to extend the bonds of trust they have with their parents to the caregivers in the program. The physical locations where arrivals and departures take place depend on the needs of children and their parents.
Choice Time— During this part of the daily routine, caregivers are attentive and offer emotional and physical support to children as the children play and explore their environment at their own pace. Caregivers tailor their responses to children's ideas, engage in give-and-take communication with the children, imitate children's actions, support children's play with other children, and assist children in problem solving. They also support older toddlers in planning and recalling their choice-time activities.
Group Times— In small groups of older infants and toddlers, caregivers provide a particular set of materials for children to explore in a common activity. In these group times children remain in close contact with the caregiver while having a shared experience with other children. Although the adults introduce the activities, children remain free to make choices about materials and how to use them. Adults follow the children's cues (e.g., deciding how long the activity lasts, based on children's interest levels).
Outside Time— This segment of the day allows infants and toddlers to explore the outdoor world. Using strategies similar to those used at choice time, adults support children's exploration and interests, providing open-ended materials and a variety of experiences. Young infants who are not yet crawling may spend time on a blanket lying on their backs and looking around, reaching for objects, and feeling the sun and air. Older infants sit and explore toys and natural objects, crawl, and pull themselves up to a stand. With assistance, they may swing or go for a wagon ride. Toddlers will use the open area of the play space for a wide range of physical movements, simple games, and problem solving as they pursue their interests.
Caregiving Routines— In addition to strengthening bonds with children during meals, rest, and bodily care routines, caregivers also use these care giving routines as opportunities to share control by finding ways for the children to play an active role. Caregivers fit these times around children's exploration and play. Frequency of naps is based around each child's individual needs, with quiet alternatives provided for non-nappers. Adults also accommodate children's individual styles of waking up. Similarly, adults take cues from children about feedings and diaper changes rather than asserting control to make the schedule more convenient for themselves.
Transitions — The timing of transitions is flexible, based on children's needs and engagement in their play, and the shift in events or activities should be kept low-key and comfortable. Caregivers organize the parts of the day in a logical fashion, just as one would do in one's personal routine. They strive to avoid unnecessary transitions, such as having children remove all their outdoor wear after playing outside and then putting it back on again to go home after a brief indoor group time. Instead, caregivers might schedule their daily routine so outside time occurs prior to departure time.
Team Planning Time— This time happens every day in a HighScope program. It can occur during children's naptime, before children arrive, or after they leave. The teaching team meets to discuss their observations of children's developing abilities and interests, focusing on these observations as they plan activities and review the materials in the classroom.
It is important to plan a daily routine that makes sense to children and flexes to meet their needs, yet is consistent. Following the same routine day after day gives infants and toddlers the sense of security they need to.