Using Daily Routines to Teach Preschool Academics

As a Reggio-inspired program, we use the environment and daily routine as additional  teachers. Our space is set up so that each child care be successful, as is our day to day routine. Within the routine, the children have expectations; hang up your jacket, put on your slippers, etc. Part of our expectations really come into play when the child turns three years old.

Our program is a play-based, Reggio-inspired program. We move along our days learning about topics that are of interest to the children. We give them the opportunities to learn through play.

There are certain, measurable academics we still want to ensure the children of our program learn as they spend their days with us. We meet these academic needs by utilizing jobs in our program.

At age three, our children are officially “preschoolers.” There are many things that come with being a preschooler, but one of the most coveted is having a weekly job! We have eight jobs, one for each child, which they rotate through on a weekly basis. It is through these jobs that we work on the “academic skills” they will need to acquire to be successful as they continue on to elementary school, and into adulthood.  Each job encompasses many of the standards of the Maine Early Learning Development Standards (MELDS.)


The jobs on rotation are: snack helper, pet help, light inspector, librarian, nap cot helper, nap bags, lunch helper, and name caller. Each of these jobs play an important role in teaching the children in our program a multitude of skills.



In this article I will focus on the jobs of snack helper, lunch helper, nap cot helper and nap bag helper.

Our snack and lunch helper jobs are seemingly the most exciting. Each child here has a placemat, which is the first component of this job. The helper will choose who’s placemat goes where. This means using their executive functioning to determine who is older and tall enough to be at the bigger table, and who needs to sit at the smaller table, and who could be at either table. The helper then puts out the necessary plates, cups, and utensils for the meal.

The meal helpers are building on the following skills.

  • Recognizing print – each child’s name on the placemat
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Beginning to subitize
  • 1:1 correspondance – one placemat, one cup, one fork
  • Beginning to recognize the relationship between numbers and quantities
  • Beginning to understand self-serving of meals


The nap cot and nap bag helper are ones that are enjoyed almost as much as being a mealtime helper. During the nap set-up, the helpers are tasked with removing the nap bag from the cabinet, unstacking the cots and placing around the space. Each of these jobs help to build math skills. At nap time, we have a few children who sleep in the same spot, but others space rotates daily. It is the choice of the nap bag helper to determine who sleeps where (with occasional teacher input.) Nap cot helper can present a challenge, because the children sleep in multiple rooms and space for nap time, and we are often changing the layout of our environment as we notice the children using or not using, areas and toys.

The skills learned in these jobs are:

Nap Bag Helper

  • Print recognition – name tag with each child’s name on their bag
  • 1:1 correspondance – one cot, one bag
  • Develops increased ability to make independent choices

Nap Cot Helper

  • Develops motor coordination skills
  • Demonstrates spatial awareness in relation to stationary objects in the environment
  • Uses physical movement to gain understanding of orientation and directionality
  • Recognize and duplicate patterns in the environment.

Stay tuned for future articles when we discuss our other preschool jobs!

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