Home > Pre-schools > What Happens at Pre-school?

What Happens at Pre-school?

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 15 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
What Happens At Pre-school?

One of the key questions of parents who are choosing a pre-school for their child is what actually happens during the day. Although the exact details will vary from school to school, here’s some insight into how the day is typically structured in pre-schools.

It’s no surprise that parents are keen to know what will happen when their child goes to pre-school. As well as informing them, it’s useful when preparing children to be able to explain what activities and learning tasks they may be involved with during the day. It’s a big move going to pre-school for the first time, but the more informed parents and children are, the easier it may be to adjust to the new experience.


When children arrive for the day, the pre-school class comes together for registration. The children’s names are read out and their attendance is noted – in a similar way to ‘big’ school.

Free Play Session

Free play may last for an hour or more and involves a large choice of play activities that children can choose from. With their short attention spans, they may be involved in several different types of play during the free play session. This typically involves play such as:

  • Reading.
  • Using play dough.
  • Making models.
  • Painting.
  • Collage work.
  • Drawing.
  • Playing in the Wendy house.
  • Playing with sand and water.
  • Doing a puzzle.
  • Playing games.
  • Playing with construction toys.
  • Make believe play with other children.
  • Some play on the computer.

Sharing Stories and Songs

It’s recognised that children love stories, so at some point during the session there’s likely to be a story time. This may also be accompanied by songs, where the children can join in.

Physical Play

Physical play is important too and there will be some type of physical play incorporated into the pre-school learning experience. It will be designed to improve the key skills of children, both physically and socially, for example a child’s balance, co-ordination, playing with others and the ability to learn to take turns with other children. Children will need a PE kit for physical play, which the pre-school will advise on. Physical play may take place indoors or outdoors and may involve the use of equipment such as a climbing frame, trampoline, tunnel or slide.

Snack Time

At some point during the activities there will be a snack time, where children can have a break and enjoy a healthy snack, such as fruit.

Other Activities

There are also other activities which may take place occasionally on a weekly or monthly basis, or at the discretion of the individual pre-school. For example, some may run ‘bring and tell’ sessions, where children take in items to tell the others about, or share information about what they did over the weekend. There may also be occasional sessions such as learning to cook simple foods or snacks.

Seeing this on paper often makes parents amazed at just how much pre-schools do manage to fit into the time when children attend, but as they have short-attention spans, the activities are broken down into manageable chunks of time. With such variety on offer, you can be sure that your children are learning all kinds of new skills and abilities and are building up their knowledge step by step.

The pre-school environment also offers a good opportunity for children to interact with their peers and make friends, plus it’s a good grounding for going on to ‘real’ school when they’re older.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kata
    Re: What is an Academy?
    I would like to find a school for sport or car mechanic, we currently live in london for 1 month, my son is 15 years old, doesn't speak…
    24 April 2019
  • Atirem
    Re: What to Include in an Appeal
    All help or advise needed before my appeal please?My daughter has been refused a place from the nursery that she goes now! She’s…
    23 April 2019
  • Murray
    Re: What is Flexi-schooling?
    I find it really hard to take an article seriously when it talks of what’s fair and unfair as a negative for how you school your child!…
    17 April 2019
  • Marie
    Re: What to Include in an Appeal
    All advice and help needed before my appeal pls?? My son AC has been refused a place at our first choice school, also a feeder…
    16 April 2019
  • Desperate mom
    Re: Home to School Transport: Lodging an Appeal
    Hi My eldest is at the catchment school but my younger son is due to start in September. Due to the new…
    15 April 2019
  • Laura at ITV News
    Re: Waiting Lists for School
    Hello My name is Laura, I work at ITV News - we are hoping to interview a London-based family for Lunchtime News (16/04/19) tomorrow…
    15 April 2019
  • n/a
    Re: Get a Place at Grammar School
    Iwould like to know the passing mark in the 11 plus. Because ma daughters y5 teacher said it 120 but the teacher assistant said…
    11 April 2019
  • Maj
    Re: Placing a Foreign Student in a UK School
    I am planning to come to study to London with my 3 children , 4 yrs, 9 yrs and 11 yrs. I would like to know about…
    11 April 2019
  • Dell
    Re: Placing a Foreign Student in a UK School
    My brother wants to migrate to uk n his son is answering class 10th exams can he enrol his son in uk high…
    9 April 2019
  • Lainey
    Re: Rules and Regulations Surrounding School Trips
    My daughter is going on a school trip to Pompeii. They are due to arrive home at 2.30am and expected to be…
    6 April 2019