One of the benefits of being home with my children is being able to set my own schedule and work at my own pace. I miss many things about teaching in the classroom but schedules and routines are not one of them! So it came as an ironic joke when my daughter began to frequently ask “What are we doing today?” Though laughable, my daughter’s need for structure and routine came as no surprise. Children of all ages tend to thrive when given a more structured environment. Routine often gives children the sense of security and empowers them to independently begin activities they know are a part of the schedule.
As a Christmas present my in laws gave us a very exciting calendar (Barbie- what could be better?) my daughter swooned!She couldn’t wait for the New Year so we could learn how to use the calendar together. I took this as an opportunity to teach my overly excited daughter. What better way to collaborate on structure, routine and scheduling than a calendar. As an added bonus calendars are a way to teach days of the week, months of the year, number order, and initial decoding skills; all of which are critical skills to teach for school readiness.
We started straight away. I began with the days of the week and we wrote in all our planned activities for the month. This is where I lost her, I realized writing out our schedule was like reading her a book in another language. She doesn’t know how to read so writing our schedule was way over her head.
The next time I approached the calendar we created a pictorial representation of each activity we do during the week. This way she was able to “read” the calendar independently. She was much more engaged in the activity and immediately wanted to hang the calendar up in her room.
Creating symbols for words was a wonderful scaffolding technique which engaged my daughter in a lesson that would have otherwise been too high for her. This is just the beginning of my calendar lessons, but it is important to begin small and continually reinforce past skills learned. I am looking forward to working on our calendar further and I have already been able to refer to the calendar when asked the question; “What are we doing today?”
Further teaching points to focus on through calendar fun
1. Days of the week
2. Months of the year
3. Count down to special events such as birthdays or holidays
4. Holiday awareness
6. Number order
7. Skip counting
8. Language development (first, next then, after that, finally)
9. Sequencing and order of events
10. Story telling skills
Get a great printable calendar
Color Calendar’s from Education World
Written by Nicole Rowley