What is a suitable weekly schedule for a 4 - 5 year old child? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 11-06-2013, 06:50 AM - Thread Starter
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What is a suitable schedule for preschool (# of days per week and hours per day)?


How many extracurricular activity days would be suitable/not overscheduling per week?


How many hours of sleep should a 5 year old get each night?  And is it vital to insist on down time/quiet time in place of naptime if the child doesn't do naps anymore?


Any input would be appreciated!

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#2 of 9 Old 11-06-2013, 11:21 AM
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Except for the sleep, I think it depends very much on your child's personality and the other things going on in your family life.  Even sleep is somewhat variable between individuals, but I think most kids this age need at least 10 hours per 24. 


I'll tell you what were the answers to these questions for my son and myself at this age:


My son went to preschool 5 days a week, 9 hours a day, while his dad and I were at work.  It was not "academic" all day; there was lots of free play time interspersed with structured crafts and circle times when they would talk about letters, science, etc.  They had a 2-hour nap time every afternoon when those who were not sleeping had to play quietly on their mats; my son usually did sleep during this time but was gradually reducing his naps.  On days at home, he usually resisted napping, but a parent would lie down with him and read stories for a while in the afternoon to give him the opportunity to nap; if he didn't, we started bedtime earlier.  He was not in any extracurriculars as such--we figured he had plenty of socializing and enrichment at school, and we didn't have any extra time on weekdays--but I took him to church twice a week and to occasional Saturday library storytimes, etc.


When I was 4, I went to preschool 3 days a week, 3 hours a day.  When I was 5, I went to kindergarten 5 days a week, 3 hours a day.  At any given time I was usually taking a class at the YWCA or similar, something like art or swimming, that met once or twice a week for an hour or two at a time.  Mostly I would choose one class each season, but sometimes I had two or three.  I was also in a play group of 4 little girls who got together once a week (rotating houses) for about 3 hours including lunch.  I had quit napping as a toddler, but my younger brother took a long afternoon nap, so on days when I wasn't at school at that time my mom would have me watch PBS while she had some time to herself; I think this was more for her benefit than mine, though I did like those shows!

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#3 of 9 Old 11-06-2013, 05:50 PM
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Our 4-yo has 35 hours per week of daycare/preschool.

1/2 hour of music class

1-2 hours of soccer, depending on the season.

We recently had swimming in the mix, too, but it's over for now.

He sleeps 10-11 hours per night, and naps very occasionally at school.

It depends a lot on what works for your family, how much driving you want to do, and whether preschool is optional or something you need while you're working outside the home.  Plus the personality of your kid and previous exposure to school and structured activities.

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#4 of 9 Old 11-07-2013, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by PeachBaby View Post

What is a suitable schedule for preschool (# of days per week and hours per day)?


How many extracurricular activity days would be suitable/not overscheduling per week?


How many hours of sleep should a 5 year old get each night?  And is it vital to insist on down time/quiet time in place of naptime if the child doesn't do naps anymore?


Any input would be appreciated!

Dd goes to school full time (junior kindergarten in Ontario). I limit my dk`s activities to two; right now dd takes piano - and thankfully her class is during the school hours, and skating once a week. But I know from my experience with ds that two activities can easily morph into practice/game/group classes/concerts/tournaments of 4 sessions per week, as they grow older.


With sleep or nap time, I guess it depends on the child. Some children need more sleep than others. Ds was done taking naps at 3. Dd still naps on week-ends (and they have nap time / quiet time at school). Her bedtime is 8 pm (lights out at 8:30), and she wakes up around 7 am, usually on her own.


I don`t think it's vital to insist on quiet time; I could never implement it in my house. My kids never stay still in one room by themselves.

Ds 9 and dd 5
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#5 of 9 Old 11-10-2013, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for sharing your personal schedules, that helps a lot!
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#6 of 9 Old 11-10-2013, 07:30 PM
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At 4, my DD had preschool 2 mornings a week (3.5 hours each time), and a 1-hour gymnastics class once a week. I'm sure most kids could handle plenty more than that, but we like a lot of unstructured time. We also spend lots of time doing outings on our own -- beach, museums, friends' houses, the library, the park, bike rides, etc.

She slept about 9 hours per night (both kids still do, even my 9-year-old). No nap, and no quiet time in place of a nap, but she gave up naps at 2 so we were way last that by then. For DS who napped regularly until age 4, we did quiet time in place of a nap until almost age 5.

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#7 of 9 Old 11-11-2013, 07:51 AM
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I really think it depends on the child as to what is "suitable." I never in a million years thought it was "suitable" for a 2 (almost but not quite 3) year old to start preschool since I was a SAHM. But DS proved me wrong -- he needed so much more playtime and socializing than I could give him.


I always wanted to be careful not to overschedule my kids. I watched my cousins grow up being shuttled from activity to activity and they never had any down time. Never relaxed, always seemed like they were being "pushed"  by their parents: soccer, dance class, music lessons, karate, baseball, more music lessons (two instruments each).... Now I see that some kids (mine included) need that level of activity. Maybe our house just has bad juju or something, but both my kids hate being at home. Since they were babies, they were always happy to be out and about, and miserable at home, so I kept them out and busy and happy. Now the 2 year old is in preschool and gymnastics class once a week. Older son is in elementary school, does three after-school activities during the week and a sport on the weekends. And he'd probably be happy doing more, as the afternoons that he's "free" he gets into trouble. I'm trying to teach him to "just be" instead of feeling like he always needs to be on the go, but I'm not so good at that yet.... Maybe it's just a personality thing.

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#8 of 9 Old 11-11-2013, 09:58 AM
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I agree that it mostly depends on the child's personality and on the desires and needs of the parents. My older dd, who is a teen now, is an introvert who likes lots of unstructured, quiet time at home. She stayed home with me until kinder with the exception of 6 hours per week of playtime and structured classtime with other kids and, usually, one other structured activity at a time. At 5 she went to half-day K, 5 days per week, and in 1st grade she began a regular school day from 8 to 3. We've pretty much always maintained having only one other structured activity besides school, so she has a lot of downtime to follow her own instincts and interests.


My younger dd is a totally different story. Hugely social & outgoing, driven to learn from others besides me -- she started begging to go to school at age 2, and just playgroups, music class, storytimes, classes, park days, childcare at gym, and whatever else I could drum up for her wasn't enough. We started her in preschool 8:30 to 3:00, 5 days per week this fall when she was almost 4 and she's thriving. She asks to do more in the afternoon - wants playdates, park time, etc. almost every day even after school.


I think I raised both of my kids in a very similar low-key but enriched home environment, and I've been at home and very hands-on with both of them. Yet their social needs and comfort levels are like night & day. With my older dd, quiet home time came very naturally to her, but she needed more encouragement to practice social skills and outdoor activities. With my younger, outdoor and social activities are like breathing, but she needs my encouragement to practice quiet play and alone time. Follow your child's natural interests and you won't go wrong.  In general, though, I do think every child needs a good amount of quiet free play and time at home.


Oh, and my kids both slept around 11 hours per night at 4 or 5. My older dd took a nap until age 5, one to two hours per day. My younger one dropped hers on her own around age 2.5 and never looked back. We work on making sure she gets as much sleep as she can at night, since she expends so much energy during the day.

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#9 of 9 Old 11-12-2013, 06:34 AM
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What works for one family may not work for an other. All my children went to preschool 2 days a week for 2 hours at 3 or 3 and 4 (if they had middle of the school year birthdays) then 3 days a week for 2.5 to 3 hours at 4 or 4 and 5. My youngest went to a pilot program for 2 year olds at the High School Child Development class. Her older sister was in the class for half of it, and I think the once a week session ran about an hour and a half. She loved it, called it "Sister school!" I was the ONLY parent to stay the entire time during the first few classes, oddly enough. Several of the children cried so hard that their parents had to be basically forced to take them out of the program, and a lot of the kids were just too little for preschool. My DD did really well and loved it, but there were people she knew there the entire time, and I was often in the teacher's office, as I was doing a Breastfeeding class for the Parenting classes, as well. They cancelled this program after only 2 semesters and stuck with starting the kids at 3 or older. It was probably the best choice for them.


Then half day Kindergarten for all my children the August after their 5th birthdays. I'm not a fan of full day Kindergarten, my kids still needed me very much by the end of a 3 hour school day at 5. Naps? None of mine still napped at 5. Maybe if they were really tired, and my oldest would nap after her allergy shots, as she would cry and I think her immune system was working really hard on those days. But, after 3 or younger, I never insisted on naps if my kids weren't taking them anymore. Of course, if they seemed really tired, I'd have them rest or play quietly with a book or something.


Other activities at 5? We went to a few library programs and my girls would accompany me to LLL meetings and go to play groups if they weren't in school. But, I'm not one to overschedule my children, I think kids need a lot of down time to use their imaginations, so aside from a failed attempt at Karate with two of mine at this age (the two who tried it lost interest in a few weeks) we never had any "scheduled" activities, just doing stuff with the family and friends.


Sleep? Two of mine were probably sleeping 7-8 hours at night at this age, and my middle one was probably sleeping 8-10 hours. My kids have never needed a lot of sleep. Expecting 10 hours from a child who is wired to only need 7 or 8 is going to be problematic, as well as expecting only 7-8 hours from a child who needs 10. Let her sleep after putting her to bed at a reasonable hour and see how much her body actually needs.

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