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The overarching goal of many preschools is to prepare children for kindergarten. This is a good objective to keep in mind when preparing lesson plans for preschool. While children at this age tend to learn best by exploring and using their creativity, they are also usually ready to learn how to follow a certain amount of structure. A varied lesson plan that includes opportunities for exercise, development of social skills, themed projects, and free play is typically the best for growing young minds.
Many preschools will have a set schedule for each day within which both the teacher and the children can be creative. For instance, a typical day may include playtime outside, a time for snacks, a free play period where children can explore different activity stations, and then a time to gather together for stories or songs, which is often referred to as circle time. With a structure like this, lesson plans for preschool can be woven into each section of the day, or only into particular portions, depending on the decision of the teacher and, in a cooperative preschool, perhaps the input of parents as well.
Some common themes to use for lesson plans for preschool include projects centered on animals, numbers, letters, seasons, and plants. Lesson plans can also incorporate different kinds of materials, such as play dough, rice, water, and various kinds of art supplies. A teacher may also wish to explore different areas, including science, music, domestic activities, and nature. Providing opportunities for children to explore in their own way can also be beneficial, such as planning a time when some children can read books about a particular theme while others do a hands-on project exploring the same subject.
The best lesson plans for preschool typically give children the opportunity to use their creativity while learning about a wide array of subjects. This can include activities such as art projects in which the children combine different materials in a variety of colors or textures to make a similar item. For instance, the theme could be butterflies, the general shape of which the teacher could pre-cut out of construction paper, but the children could decorate them as they please.
While most lesson plans are incorporated into only a few portions of the school day, they can be woven throughout every element of preschool. A theme can be used for one or several activities during free play or incorporated into other regularly scheduled activities such as the songs for circle time or the activities on the playground. Depending on how the teacher gears the lesson plan, and the complexity and flexibility of the subject, a theme can be used for one day of school, a week, or for as long as an entire section of school. In some cases a preschool will specialize in one area, such as nature, art, or music, and the lesson plans will be more specifically geared to those areas.