A Day in the Life of an ECE Teacher


Becoming an early childhood teacher you quickly learn that not every day is the same. One moment everything is calm and easy-going and the next its crying children because someone wasn’t sharing a toy. If you are a parent I’m sure you know all about it. Just take 1-3 children and add about another 27 or so children to the mix. Things can get hectic.

To set the mood I thought I’d share a bit about me and where I work for context purposes. I work as a fully qualified early childhood teacher in rural Auckland, New Zealand. I work an 8 hour day with a max of 30 children per day aged between 2-5 years. This is shared with 3 other teachers. My preschool has a 1:10 ratio, meaning 3 teachers on the floor with 30 children while one teacher is in the office doing paperwork. Time off the floor, known as “non-contact” is shared amongst all the teachers. It works out to be around 5hrs off the floor per week for each teacher. Most preschools across in New Zealand have 1-2 hours.

Our Daily Routine

It is important to have a routine for teachers and children to follow. It makes the days run smoother and helps to let everyone know where they should be and when they should be doing a set task. Over the years, I’ve noticed children thrive off routines. They start to know what is happening and are able to comprehend why it may be time to put away a certain toy. So here is my preschools routine.

7:30am – 9:30am:

This is the time of the day when children are arriving at preschool. Teachers help to settle the children, talk to parents, and allow children the freedom to play. At 9:00am we encourage the children who need help going the toilet to go.

9:30am – 10:00am:

We start our first tidy up of the day. We play our “Tidy Up” song to signal to all the children its time to clean up our play toys and reset the environment for more open-ended play later. Around 9:45am the children wash their hands and sit down for morning-tea. This is provided by the preschool. We ensure the children have at least 3 fruits or veggies as well as a carb – this may be crackers and cheese, a slice of pizza, scones, or toast… the list goes on.

10:00am – 11:45am:

During this time period it is all about free play. We encourage the children to engage in uninterrupted play by teachers, unless we are invited to join in on the fun by a child. One of the teachers may set up an art table, get out the carpentry equipment, or create an obstacle course for the children. Of course throughout this time period there may be tears from falling over, friendship troubles, or sharing issues. So we act as the social and emotional support for the child/ren.

Around 11:30am one teacher begins supporting the younger children with toileting or changing their nappy.

11:45am – 12:00pm:

We sometimes encourage a ‘news mat time’. This is where we all come together and the children share something about their home life. Maybe they went horse riding the day before? Won an awesome trophy at an event? Went on an amazing holiday? Or created something wonderful at home? No matter what it is any child is welcome to stand up in front of their friends and share their news. A time to build confidence.

12:00pm – 12:45pm

Kai / lunch time. Yum yum! We all sit down together to chat and eat. Children are free to leave the table whenever they are finished. The younger children who require a sleep make their way to the sleep room with a teacher.

12:45pm – 1:00pm:

Those that don’t sleep make their way to the book corner. We sit down together reading our books, looking at pictures, or listening to an audio book. We find a comfy pillow or a place to lie down to rest our bodies for a few moments. Whilst this is happening one teacher is off cleaning the kitchen and tables.

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Free play. Yipee!

2:00pm – 3:00pm:

We begin our end of the day tidy up. My preschool has a very large outdoor space, so doing our best to get most of the cleaning up done at this time makes it easier on the teachers at the end of the day. We all come together – teachers and children – to make our place look beautiful and tidy. When everything is in place we head inside for our afternoon-tea.

3:00pm – 5:00pm

Home time and free play. Most children leave between 3 – 4pm, while a handful of children staying till 5pm. Throughout this time we let the children play and learn. At 5:00pm teachers are packed up and ready to head home.

Categories: Loose Parts

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