Saturday, October 8, 2011

Homemade Calendar for Preschoolers

Last school year, Ryann had a hard time being dropped off at school. As the spring progressed she got more and more anxious at drop off and even cried a couple times. At the same time she started to say she hated school and didn't want to go. I didn't want her to be miserable at school so I asked her teacher for some help getting to the bottom of her discontent.

Her only suggestion was that Ryann seemed fixated on who was picking her up each day. Some days I picked her up, some days her Papa and once a week (sometimes twice) her dad would pick her up for his visitation. While I verbally lead Ryann through each day, she needed something more to make the pick-up schedule concrete in her head. Her teacher suggested a calendar.

Great, I thought! Buying a calendar should be easy. So as soon as possible we trekked to Target and combed through all the calendars they had. As I looked though, I realized how kid unfriendly your average calendar is. There was just so much going on. Too many dates, not enough emphasis on the days of the week and in general too many distractions from the current day. All of this is too much for a kid who can't read and doesn't even have a firm grasp on the days of the week or the passing of time.

I wanted a weekly calendar that made it easy to differentiate each day without reading but that would also show the rhythm of the week ahead. I needed to be able to label it with the name of the person picking her up and that needed to be easy to understand for a pre-reader as well. Once I figured out what I needed, I left the calendar section and gathered materials to make my own.

I used multicolor foam sheets, glitter foam sheets, stick-on velcro squares and markers.

Each weekday is represented by a different color. Saturday and Sunday are the same color to show that they are weekend days and there is no school. I wrote the day of the week nice and bold at the top of each foam sheet.

Then I cut the glitter foam sheets into strips and had Ryann pick the colors for each person's name. She picked orange for me because it's my favorite color. Purple for Papa because it's her favorite color (and Papa is her favorite!). And blue for her dad because he has a blue shirt, she said. Ryann helped me write the names and attach the velcro squares to the backs. We also put velcro on the days of the week so they are easy to change around as the schedule changes.

We hung the calendar up on the wall, keeping the weekend days together so it was easier to understand than a traditional calendar. 

Once the calendar was in practice it was like magic! Ryann immediately stopped saying she hated going to school and within a week was no longer being ultra clingy as I dropped her off in the morning. Confidence in the weekly schedule helped her relax into her school day and have fun.

This project is easy to customize for any schedule. Depending on your child's ability level, you could populate the whole week with activities! I chose to focus on only one thing as Ryann's introduction to a schedule and the days of the week, but it will be easy to adapt as her understanding grows.

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