Chuck the Calendars

Who cares if it's Monday? Calendars don't belong in preschool classrooms.

Who cares if it’s Monday? Calendars don’t belong in preschool classrooms.

 

While researching my book, I’ve visited a lot of preschool classrooms.  Preschool, pre-K, Young Fives, kindergarten, Montessori, public, private, charter, you name it.  I’ve observed too many to count.  One thing I almost always see in each early ed. classroom is an enormous calendar.

This calendar charts the days, month and weather.  During morning circle time, the children gather on the rug at their teacher’s feet and go over the day’s weather, the day of the week, and the day’s date.  Today they’ll be counting to 20.

Calendar time takes center stage each morning in thousands of classrooms.  I believe it’s misplaced.

I’ve never known an adult who doesn’t know what Monday is.  Or a third grader, for that matter.

Grasping the days of the week is not hard, but it takes some growing up to be relevant.  Many young kids live in a fog where time is concerned.  “Can we play at Mia’s house yesterday?”  “My spaghetti stew needs to cook for 100 hours.”  Time and days of the week are vague.  That’s OK.  Young kids function best with time statements like “after nap.”  Time will settle down in their minds soon enough.  Why impose our ordered rows of time on them now?

Go outside if you want kids to notice the weather.

Go outside if you want kids to notice the weather.

The same is true of most classroom weather charts.  Putting the “sunny” picture in the Wednesday slot doesn’t teach much.  Weather is only relevant to young kids when they are outside in it.  So get them outside — whatever the weather.  That’s what makes weather meaningful.

Group circle time is best when it’s kept short and relevant.  It’s great for singing songs, hearing stories and puppet shows and sharing news together.  Counting is naturally integrated in many songs and stories (“Five little ducks went out to play”  “Ten little monkeys jumping on the bed”). That’s the kind of counting that kids care about. Keeping group circle time short and sweet is important.  The rest of the time kids will be busy learning on their own – engaged in meaningful play.

I know calendars are an entrenched tradition in classrooms for 3-5 year-olds, but it’s time to question that.  What’s the point?

So chuck the calendars.  Monday can wait.  We need to respect that kids have better things to do.

What’s your take?  Why do you think The Calendar is so prevalent in today’s classrooms?  What would be more relevant to kids?

Interested? Read more about renegade parenting and ideas to transform families and classrooms.

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17 Responses to Chuck the Calendars

  1. Laurie says:

    “Time will settle down in their minds soon enough. Why impose our ordered rows of time on them now?”

    AND

    “We need to respect that kids have better things to do.”

    yes, Yes, and YES again!

  2. deidra says:

    I agree wholeheartedly on the weather part. Kids need to go out in ALL kinds of weather. One of my favorite childhood memories is the time my mom let us put on our swimming suits and run out in the rain. It even hailed a little bit and we had blast collecting the hail in buckets.

    You are so right. Kids that age don’t need calendars.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Hail in buckets! What fun. Sometimes my kids put bike helmets on when it’s hailing and listen to the sound pinging off their heads.

  3. Nancy says:

    Bev Bos says there are 3 C’s that do not belong in early childhood classrooms — calendars, clocks and computers! I totally agree!!!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Ah, yes. Excellent wisdom. Bev Bos, as usual, is right on. All three C’s creep in unnecessarily to young kids’ lives. Thanks for sharing your comment.

      • Madeline says:

        My daughter goes to Roseville Community Preschool (where Bev Bos is the Director) and you will be happy to hear that those 3 C’s are still banned!

        • Heather Shumaker says:

          Lucky you! Anyone’s who’s curious about what early childhood can really be like – take a field trip to Roseville. Enjoy, enjoy.

          • Madeline says:

            I double pinky swear that I never take it for granted that RCP is 10 minutes from our house. We are so lucky.

  4. Grace says:

    If I wasn’t at my desk, I’d be cheering loudly!!
    I think teachers of young children don’t KNOW what to do with group time. But it’s precious! It’s time for building community!! Not for drearily hashing through meaningless rituals because “SOMEthing should look “school”-y.”

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I can hear your cheers, Grace. Yes, group time done the right way is indeed precious. Love your phrase “Something should look ‘school’y.”

  5. Marianne says:

    Finally!!! (someone who validates my opinion) I took my big calendar down several months ago. I just do not see how it helps the children. They are all over the floor when we do it – so it is clear that they are not interested. The do love doing the days of the week song and the months of the year so I feel that hearing those names will plant the seed for calendar learning later on.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Hooray! A calendar banished! Thanks so much for sharing your story — and kudos on your insight in observing children and trusting them to show what they need.

  6. Carlene Mogavero says:

    I am a Waldorf pre/kindergarten teacher. I’m happy to say we have never done calendar time and we have always gone outside to play in all seasons and all weather.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Wonderful, Carlene. Waldorf teaching certainly understands the power of nature and the outdoors. Especially needed now in our indoor culture. Bravo!

  7. kat says:

    AMAZing take on calendars. Thankyou for putting in such concise words what I have been feeling for many months but not recognising! Yay for no calendars!!!