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?
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?
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