How Come I Only Got a 5?

Each center has its own physical constraints that will impact schedule, whether they are an old building with multiple floors, shared bathrooms down the hallway, a small outdoor play area that must be shared with many classrooms, or an off-site food service with pre-packaged meals. All of this will impact an ECERS score.

It is important to remember that the ECERS instrument at a level 7 is a detailed description of near perfection. Rather than take the ECERS as a “test” to “pass” on the day it is administered, view it for its intention – to describe in rubric form best practices implementation. The expression “on the way to perfection, excellence is achieved” is a useful way to use the ECERS. Look at what individual educators can accomplish within their rooms, and at what a center “system” can accomplish as a matter of policy and administration.
In developing schedules for your setting, playground and/or gym availability often impacts everything else, because not everyone can be out at the same time in most cases. Breakfast and lunch times are most often not in the control of teaching staff, so issues here would have to be discussed with administration.
Within their classrooms, teachers manage their schedule to meet the needs of their implementation. For example, at times teachers may need to have another whole group for a certain experience related to a study or theme: an educational video about sea animals, a “what do we know about ” session during a study, a second story time to finish a book for which children had much to say. This should be documented in lesson plans. The time during the day will then have to be managed differently:
· For Fours, morning meeting and small groups could be shortened to 10 minutes, freeing up another 15 minutes for that day.
· For Threes, as the year progresses and routines become faster, another whole group may become possible on a regular basis, especially if there is a bathroom in the room!
Thus for any given classroom, there may be a good pedagogical reason to adjust a set schedule one or more times a week. If that’s the case on a regular basis, the schedule in that room would look different than the schedule in other rooms. Please discuss this situation with your administrator and master teachers.
SO . . . there is no one schedule for every room, every center. But, the schedule for the preschool day must encompass a 6 hour, 30 minute day, starting at 8:30 A.M. and ending at 3:00 P.M. This usually includes a 40 minute lunch for staff. The additional 25 minutes in a teacher's required time is before or after this "academic day" time, and is considered prep time for teachers. Within the 6.5 hours, the components are:
Whole Groups Include a Morning Meeting, a Story Time, Music & Movement, and another session that changes content based on theme, study, literacy or math needs, but is heavily embedded with literacy concepts and skills and uses good literature. These whole group sessions are generally no more than 10 minutes for Threes, and no more than 15 minutes for Fours. If any child cannot sustain attention, it's likely the session is too long. Discuss this with your colleagues and your Master Teachers.
Center Times These are held twice during the academic day, in the morning and in the afternoon, with a total time no less than 2 hours and 10 minutes. It is recommended that this time be divided in half into 65 minute sessions. “Substantial portion of the Day” ECERS language counts this time from when half the children present are in centers, to when half the children are finished cleaning up and otherwise engaged with an adult, usually ‘at the rug’ in preparation for the next activity. “Meeting SPD” during Center Time affects effects scores on 10 items; not meeting the 2 hour 10 minute minimum limits scores to no higher than a 4 for those items.
HOWEVER, please note that Center Times in your schedule requires the additional minutes for Small Group, as below. So, in your schedule, Center Time is the SPD Free Play minutes plus the Small Group minutes, a total of 75 minutes for Threes twice a day, and 80 minutes twice a day for Fours.
Small Groups Teachers group children flexibly and plan according to needs based on assessment in Language Arts Literacy and Mathematics, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The recommendation is 3 per group, so that every child has an opportunity for close interaction in math and literacy at least once a week.
Group sessions last for 10-15 minutes, with Threes generally targeting a 10 minute session, and Fours a 15 minute session. For both groups, adjustments are made as required to address engagement and interest. This group time is added to the time allotted to Centers, so that every child on any given day has at least the minimum free choice time.
Teachers also meet informally in centers during Choice times, reading to individuals, and engaging in play that is child-directed, but that is sensitive to and takes advantage of “teachable moments”. Activities in the various Creative Curriculum centers are planned and take into account the content of the week.
Outdoor Play Here there is a 45 minute minimum, using portable equipment in addition to any stationary equipment. In inclement weather (32 degrees and below, rain, heavy wind, extreme heat, etc.) or if a center has no playground, choice in gross motor movement must be provided for indoors - in the classroom if need be.
Gross Motor Movement A 45 minute access to a variety of equipment (indoors or out) is the minimum, but 60 minutes are required in total; see below for the additional 15 minutes. The equipment must stimulate at least 7 gross motor skills beyond anything that can be done without it, such as running, skipping, hopping, etc. So equipment must provide for pedaling, catching, balancing, climbing, etc.
Music & Movement Music and movement materials must be available for a minimum of 45 minutes a day and a teacher directed session must be included daily. Creative Curriculum implementation includes a Music & Movement Area during Choice times as a free choice. The “teacher directed session” is most often planned as a separate whole group time of 15 minutes, which also adds to the outdoor gross motor time of 45 minutes, thus reaching the 60 minutes gross motor movement minimum in the academic day. Movement activities are defined as dancing, marching, or exercising to music or rhythms, singing or acting out the content of songs, rhymes or chants with large muscle body actions. Finger plays and sitting in circles singing do not “count” as movement, and are best used as language and math activities and during transitions.
A Closing Circle This is time to reflect on the day, anticipate tomorrow, to end the day with the teacher.See the Schedules page for samples for both PreK Three and PreK Four classrooms.
For Threes, teachers may need to have a number of 3-7 minute whole groups, especially in the beginning
of the year, as they move toward the target schedule. Fours, on the other hand, will move into sessions of 20-25 minutes in late spring.
Whole Groups Impact ECERS Note that the schedule samples avoid large groups being back-to-back. This is because it is inappropriate to hold young children to the expectation that they all remain attentive and engaged for long periods of time to someone else’s agenda. For Item 36: Group Time the standard at a Level 5 is: “less than or equal to 20 minutes with all children remaining interested and involved”. If that can’t happen, the reasons why are considered: sessions are shortened, made more interesting and/or interactive, and appropriate attention to the needs of children with special needs or who are English language learners are also re-examined. So, it is rare that whole group Literacy, or whole group Story Time can follow Morning Meeting successfully, so that cannot be in the schedule.
Sometimes it seems that a teacher has no choice but to have two teacher-directed sessions back-to back, but can adjust the activity level - for example, Music and Movement (an up and active session) following Story Time (a sitting and listening session). Another smart adjustment would be to provide choice within the Music & Movement session, thus it becomes a child-selected small group. Refer back to the 2008-09 workshop materials given by Pat Sivori, Samira Kat, and Eleanor Toye. Ask your master teacher for help in devising a satisfactory plan.
Story Time and the other Whole Group session can also be adjusted so that choice or splitting into 2 groups changes the dynamic for the second whole group, should two whole groups have to be back-to-back. Sometimes this happens when there are physical and time constraints using the playground or gym. Please review your schedule constraints with your Master Teachers or assigned Supervisor if they are causing frustration.

ECERS Program Structure Subscale There are three items in the Program Structure section where common pitfalls in developing and following a schedule will reduce scores. If these pitfalls are avoided, a score of 6 or even 7 is possible:
· Substantial Portion of the day is not met (2hours, 10 minutes of free play within the 6.5 hour academic day). · Children are waiting with nothing to do for longer than 3 minutes – this is most often seen at lunch, at bathroom lines, or before small group starts. Late lunch delivery is no “excuse” – have a Plan B! · All routines are done in large group – toileting, getting coats on, etc. · Whole groups are back-to-back. · Children are held in groups beyond their interest or ability to remain involved. · The schedule has changed but the old schedule is posted, or there are multiple schedules posted. · The schedule as implemented is “off” substantially for no apparent reason. · Little actual facilitation of play and thinking is observed during center times, and/or outdoors/indoor gross motor. March, 2011