Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Typical Day in a Montessori Preschool Classroom: Daily Schedule and Routine Planning

NAMC montessori preschool classroom routine schedule planning

Our Typical Daily Schedule

I have had several questions from readers wondering how the day is structured at my school so I felt it would be a good idea to give you some insight into a typical day in my Montessori classroom.
Prior to teaching at the school where I am currently working, I was accustomed to having a morning and an afternoon group with each class being two-and-a-half hours in duration. The afternoon class came four days per week and the morning class came five days per week, which worked beautifully.

In the class where I am currently teaching, the routine is very different. The need for the local community was to have classes in session longer than 2 ½ hours and also provide greater flexibility as to how many times the students attend each week. Being sensitive to the needs of the community, the owner opted to create a four-hour program (9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.) and to give parents the choice of enrolling their child 2, 3, 4 or 5 days a week. It definitely makes things a little more challenging as there is often a different group coming each day and obviously it takes a lot longer for a child coming two days a week to learn the routine than it does for a child coming four or five days a week.

The new Montessori daily schedule was an adjustment for me initially, but like most situations I have learned to adjust, embrace and enjoy the new program routine. Now, I love having the same group of students for four hours each day, as I really get to know them, the day doesn't feel nearly as rushed and the additional time enables me to create a special bond with each child. I also like the fact that so many grace and courtesy skills can be reinforced during lunch time when everyone is sitting and eating together. I have included below an outline of a typical day in my Montessori preschool classroom and I hope you find it helpful.

A Typical Day in a Montessori Preschool Classroom: Daily Schedule and Routine Planning

8:50 a.m.

We open the door to greet the students as they arrive. One Montessori teacher stands at the door to greet the student and parent, shake hands and help the student find their cubby so that they can take off and put away their shoes and coat. The other Montessori teacher sits at circle with classical music playing and greets the students one by one with a smile and a handshake and encourages them to find a place in circle and be seated cross-legged.

9:05 a.m.

Once the majority of Montessori students have arrived, we begin with a Good Morning song, a few finger plays, review the calendar and news time, and the special helper is chosen for the day. The special helper feeds Monty, our classroom fish and counts each classmate in the group (in both French and English). If any group presentations are required that day, they are presented at this circle time, such as when there are new Practical Life or art activities on the shelves.

9:20 a.m.

I usually ask my students to close their eyes and think about what work they would like to begin with today and when they have thought of something to raise their hand. I walk around the circle and gently tap each child on the hand (one by one). It is a really calm way to begin the day and helps each student begin the day focused and ready to find an activity to work on. While the children work independently, I provide individual and group lessons while my amazing Montessori teaching assistant reinforces the important rules and routines of the class and helps diffuse any issues as they arise throughout the morning.

10:15 a.m.

False Fatigue Occurs……around this time in the morning, the noise level tends to escalate and there are usually several “wanderers”. This restlessness was noted by Maria Montessori when she observed classrooms and she referred to it as “False Fatigue”. At one time, I used to feel very anxious and uneasy when this occurred as I felt like I was doing something wrong, but I now know it is a phenomenon very typical of a Montessori environment and it is important to remain calm and continue with the Montessori classroom work cycle. As long as I remain calm, cool and collected, the restlessness subsides and the children settle back into their work until 11:30 a.m., when the music is turned on to signal clean up time.

11:30 a.m.

The special helper pushes ‘play’ on our CD player to signal that it is time to clean up. The music is a soft, instrumental CD which is a great reminder to clean up in a calm, peaceful manner. Once the students tidy their work, we all sit down for circle time. We then have a quick circle, reflect on the morning, play some sort of a transition game and they are sent one by one to the washroom to wash their hands for lunch. Eating lunch is the perfect opportunity to reinforce the importance of grace, courtesy and good manners in the Montessori preschool classroom……it is such a special time of day!

12:00 p.m.

Usually by noon, the students have finished eating, tidied the floor and tables, placed their lunch bags back in their cubbies and have put on their shoes and coat to go outside. Each child is encouraged to sit quietly at circle, reading until everyone is ready.

12:10 p.m.

Once every student is dressed and ready to go outside, the special helper is responsible for calling the classmates one by one to line up at the door and only those who are sitting politely and respectfully are called first. It is a joy to watch and the special helper always feels so proud!

NAMC montessori preschool classroom routine schedule planning girl gardening

12:15 to 12:45 p.m.

We usually have a good 30 minutes to play outside and the Montessori outdoor environment is incredible...the perfect space for running, jumping, playing in the sand, watering the garden, blowing bubbles, pulling one another in a wagon, drawing with chalk and having fun on the slide and monkey bars. The 30 minutes always zips by so quickly!

12:45 p.m.

To end the day, we go back inside and everyone sits on the story time mat. One Montessori teacher reads stories while the other teacher stands at the door watching for the parents. As soon as a parent arrives, the teacher calls the child’s name to come to the cubby area to get ready to go home. Once the student is dressed and ready to go, the teacher shakes his/her hand with a happy and encouraging goodbye greeting, then opens the door to ensure the child goes directly to their parent. Story time is such a nice way to end the day and makes dismissal time calm and relaxing.

Bree — NAMC Tutor & Graduate

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, October 5, 2010.


  1. I really liked your post. I am working in a Montessori school in Japan we have a very long day from 8:30-3:30. I was really able to learn from your post. It seems like you have done a good job embracing the schedule. I hope I can take a lesson from your example.

    Bob F Colqui (Japan)

  2. Hi Bob,

    Thank-you for your kind words and I'm pleased that my posts are serving you as a useful learning tool. Every Montessori school is unique in its own way and it is a matter of finding the balance, the routine and the schedule that works for you as well as the children in your care. All the best!

  3. I'm very curious how the younger, first year students coped in a 4 hour program? Its almost the 'work smarter philosophy , not harder!" Id have to look at numbers and see how it all looks, but interesting foresure.

  4. With this schedule, the morning still is a 3-hour work period as prescribed by Dr. Montessori. The only difference is the inclusion of lunch, after lunch outside play, and an end of the day story.

  5. Curious as to what ages are included in this class?

  6. This article is helpful I currently work in a Montessori school in California. Learning so much to be lead teacher soon.

  7. This article was helpful I currently work in a Montessori school and I am learning so much.

  8. I have just recently left my job and was told its a no, no to start mornings with circle time. That children should go in straight away and work as they have more brain function in the am.

  9. I teach at a Montessori school with an 8am-5pm day! Most of our children come 5 days a week, but some come 3 days a week.

    1. hi.. can the first year and second year students, i.e mont 1 and mont 2 stay for so long.will they have capacity to stay and learn till 5pm. wanna know ur experience in this matter. thanks

  10. Oh, wow, this resembles the schedule we follow at our school - the only difference is that our students commence their work straight after the morning greeting - the circle time is set for 10:30 am, so that we optimise that wonderful morning brain power to the maximum!

  11. I would like to know how 3-year-old child can manage to be a special helper? Or this duty just for 4,5,and 6 y/ olds? How about newcomers? So, I think that some students(4,5,6 y/olds) understand the purpose of special helper, but 3 y/ olds not yet. How to explain this role to them?

  12. I have just started to work in a Montessori environment. My group time begins at about 9.45am and finished at 10.00am. During this time, I take the roll, do the Acknowledgement of Country (Indigenous) and then dismissed children to do Montessori activities. Children sit quietly and think of an activity that they would like to do and raise their hands. However, I have been told my group time is too long. Please help.

  13. I was wondering about the group projects you mentioned. You said they’d be presented in circle time, but when are the given? I was looking at your approximate schedule and I cannot seem to find when the actual instruction for group projects occur. Think you

  14. Thanks for the education. Planning on opening a Montessori school. I've got lots of clues from this.

  15. Bonjour, I really enjoy reading your post. I am French teacher assistant in Montessori school in Calgary and I really appreciate your recognition of how important to have a well trained and experienced teacher assistant in a Montessori environment especially to help the guide in the normalization process. You quoted "my amazing Montessori teaching assistant reinforces the important rules and routines of the class and helps diffuse any issues as they arise throughout the morning" just shows how you are in need of an assistant during your individual or group lessons and vise versa to support each other to achieve children's potential development! Merci.


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