Maryland EXCELS Toolkit  

Daily Schedule or Lesson Plan

Children develop, learn, and thrive in environments that provide positive interactions and engaging activities. Your daily schedule or lesson plan is one piece of documentation that shows how your environment supports all children to develop the skills they need to succeed.

Creating environments where all children thrive requires careful planning and organization, especially since no two children are exactly alike. Your daily schedule and lesson plans demonstrate the many ways you individualize your schedule, plans, and activities to meet the unique needs of all children, including children with special health care needs, or disabilities.

young girl painting rainbow color splotches on a wall above a Sunday through Saturday schedule
Welcome Families with Helpful Information

This section guides you to review and adjust your current schedule or lesson plan, or to develop a new schedule or lesson plan that meets the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Implementation: DAP 6.1 (DAP 5.1 – School-Age Only).

Select the Requirements tab to learn about key information to include in your daily schedule or lesson plan.

Requirements

Let's look at the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Implementation: DAP 6.1 (DAP 5.1 - School-Age Only). The following interactive shows you the requirements. Key requirements are marked by a bright dot. Select each dot for information about what to include in your daily schedule or lesson plan.

Select the option that applies to your program type:

 

Child Care Center

Family Child Care
DAP 6.1: Implementation Activities are individualized to address the developmental needs of each and every child and are informed by information from an IFSP / IEP, if provided (DAP 6.1). Documentation to submit: Daily Schedule or Lesson Plan

School-Age Only
DAP 5.1: Implementation Activities are individualized to address the developmental needs of each and every child and are informed by information from an IFSP / IEP, if provided (DAP 5.1). Documentation to submit: Daily Schedule or Lesson Plan

 

Instructions

To meet the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Implementation: DAP 6.1 (DAP 5.1 - School-Age Only), your daily schedule or lesson plan should clearly show:






Individualized Activities

Consistent schedules and routines help children feel safe in environments that are predictable. Children can move through their day with confidence knowing their needs will be met and they will have many opportunities to play and learn, rest and relax, and interact with others.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Like children, no two programs follow the exact same schedule with the same activities and routines. But, all quality programs follow schedules and routines that meet the individual needs of children and include key ingredients like:

  • Activities that encourage social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development
  • Activities that match the children's individual developmental levels and needs
  • A balance of active and quiet periods
  • Time to transition between activities
  • A balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities
  • A balance of whole group, small group, and individual activities
  • Connections to a child's Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Program (IEP) as appropriate
 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

You are on the right track if your daily schedule or lesson plan clearly shows where each and every child has multiple opportunities to:

  • Play and work in ways that challenges him/her to think and develop new skills with the necessary supports to experience success
  • Participate in a variety of activities with different groups of children and adults (independent, large group, small group, one-on-one)
  • Engage in activities that tap into individual interests and skills
  • Experience a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities
  • Have a balance of active and quiet periods throughout the day
  • Sufficient time and preparation to transition between activities
  • Build individual skills and receive services necessary to meet specific goals, particularly those outlined in an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or an Individualized Education Program (IEP) as appropriate
 

Where can you learn more?

This chart provides a sampling of daily routines and activities that occur in early childhood and school-age programs. Each routine and activity presents multiple opportunities for each child to participate, develop, and learn new skills throughout the day.

Your Daily Schedule or Lesson Plan: Opportunities to Learn, Observe, and Individualize

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Activities Informed by a Child's IFSP / IEP

Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) provide guidance on ways to meet the needs of individual children with special needs. Remember you are a critical member of the team that helps put these plans in action. Your daily schedule or lesson plan is evidence of the important role you play in supporting a child's progress toward the goals outlined in these documents.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your daily schedule or lesson plan clearly show ways information from a child's IFSP or IEP is part of typical routines and activities. Some examples include:

  • Use of specialized equipment (examples: chubby crayons, pencil grips, magnifying lenses, or hearing devices)
  • Opportunities for a child to practice targeted skills (examples: speech sounds, fine motor skills, or independent/self-help skills)
  • Opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction (examples: reading a large print book together, free choice activities, or outdoor play)
 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

You are on the right track if your daily schedule or lesson plan clearly shows your careful and thoughtful planning to ensure that children with special health care needs or disabilities are able to access and participate in all activities with support, as needed.

 

Where can you learn more?

Even if none of the children currently enrolled in your program receive services through an IFSP or IEP, you may find these resources interesting and helpful as you strive to meet the individual needs of all the children.

What is Inclusive Child Care?

What Is Inclusive Child Care? - eXtension

In the field of early childhood education, inclusion describes the practice of including children with disabilities in a child care setting with typically developing children of similar ages, with specialized instruction and support when needed. Federal law says that children with disabilities have a protected right to be educated in the least restrictive environment.

The IFSP: A Family Guide to Understanding the Individualized Family Service Plan

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What is the Difference Between an IFSP and an IEP?

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Final Touches

Check your daily schedule or lesson plan as you prepare to upload your document to the Maryland EXCELS System. Remember, your document may be either your daily schedule or a lesson plan.

 

Check to be sure your daily schedule or lesson plan includes:

 
 
 
 

Save your document:

  • Use a file name that you can find easily when you upload it to the system. (example: dailyschedule.docx)
  • Use any one of these formats:
    • Typed electronic version of your daily schedule or lesson plan (examples: Microsoft Word, PDF)
    • Scanned version of your daily schedule or lesson plan (examples: PDF, PNG, JPG)
    • Digital image / picture of your daily schedule or lesson plan (examples: JPG, PNG, PDF)

Next Steps

Use the following guide to upload your document, look ahead, and think about plans for improvement.

 

Step 1: Prepare to Upload Your Document

  • Locate your username and password for logging into your Maryland EXCELS account
  • Locate the document you saved on the computer
 

Step 2: Look Ahead and Plan for Improvement

Look Ahead

Consider uploading both a Daily Schedule and a Lesson Plan to meet the requirements of DAP 6.2 (DAP 5.2 – School-Age Only).

Plan for Improvement

Set a goal to learn more about individualizing lesson plans to meet the needs of all children. Or, plan to review requirements for higher Maryland EXCELS ratings and upload additional documents within the next few months to achieve a new rating.

 

Step 3: Upload Your Documentation (DAP 6.1; DAP 5.1 – School-Age Only)

Log in to the Maryland EXCELS System to upload your daily schedule or lesson plan. If none of the children currently enrolled in your program has an IFSP or IEP, or if families have chosen not to share these documents with you, please leave a comment with an explanation for your Program Coordinator.

screenshot of Maryland EXCELS upload screen with a comment box
Upload Documentation