Open Discussion Forum

Subject: Why are we still doing the calendar?

1.  Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-24-2017 11:12 AM
Hello to all the early childhood professionals out there. I am curious how many of you out there have made the transition away from doing the calendar and weather as the staple morning meeting learning experience?  I have been in the field for 17 years and for all of this time I have been working diligently to inform my staff and students that doing the calendar every single day is quite limiting and there are other endless possibilities to what can transpire at morning meeting. As someone who supports project work, emergenct curriculum, and Reggio Emilia, I am struggling daily with the idea that we just can't seem to kick this part of morning meeting. I do not mean to offend anyone out there who is doing the calendar. I invite you to enter into this dialogue with an open mind and heart. Would love to hear from others who have taken the leap and introduced varied learning experiences at morning meeting. I need to know I am not alone!!!

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Rosalie Witt
Wilton CT
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2.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 05:06 AM
I totally get what you are saying and I applaud using ingenuity during morning meeting.
I do plan to order calendar materials for my new center.
I stated in a previous thread on global warming that calendar and weather may not be understood by all children.  But this is what we do know.  Children need routines and they love repitition.  Some learn about taking turns. Calendar and the weather cover many curricula areas.  I think I will stick to it if my staff agrees because the calendar and weather brings consistency to the morning meeting.  Then we can delve into the other possibilities.

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Patricia Jack
Boulder City NV
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3.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 08:25 AM
Recently, I was observing an early childhood classroom of three year old children. This is what happened at circle time:  (1) recite alphabet twice (once in English and once in Spanish)--then an individual child stood up and recited it--kinda. (2)  count to 100 twice (both in English)--then individual child stood up and counted to 100--sorta. (3)  chant the days of the week both in English and Spanish--then individual child stood up and said days of week in English and Spanish--maybe, maybe not.

This is grueling ordeal continued with days of the month, colors, and shapes. It lasted 40 minutes and the teacher wonders why children's behaviors were so poor and attention so limited.

So no to rote. Burn calendars and all so-called learning posters. Stop stuffing children's brains with what we think they should know. Stop being a drill Sargent. Recitation does not equal understanding. It just means young children are good at mimicking and memorization.

Sandra Duncan, EdD

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Sandra Duncan
Schererville IN
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4.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 11:57 AM
Sandra, I love your comments, but I want to suggest an alternative to burning the calendars.  Especially since lots of teachers spent their own money on that calendar.  In training I ask, "At home, if you sleep in the same bedroom as a significant other, do you wake up, turn to him or her and ask, 'What day is it?  What day was yesterday? What day will tomorrow be?'"  If you do, that s.o. is going to move out SOON!  You look at your cell phone, or you go to the kitchen where the calendar is hanging on the refrigerator.  So, I suggest that folks move the calendar to housekeeping.  Then they will see those children who are developmentally ready for the abstract concepts involved in understanding the calendar playing with the calendar and they can work with those children and not waste the time of all the others.
Years ago, Young Children had a great article on this topic, by our favorite guru, Lilian Katz: https://www.naeyc.org/files/tyc/file/CalendarTime.pdf
It describes perfectly what is really going on and why we need to change our practice.
The other thing I ask in training is:  "If you want children to know what day it is, WHY NOT TELL THEM?"  It is rarely effective to tell people what is wrong with what they are doing and that they have to stop, unless you tell them why it doesn't make sense and WHAT TO DO INSTEAD.  I learned years ago from a very good young teacher to do the following:
Take the words "Today is Monday." and write them separately on file cards or pieces of sentence strip.  Make a set of each day of the school week.  Laminate them.  During group time, say "Today is Monday" as you put up the words. After a few weeks, you can hand out the cards to the children and say such things as, "Who has the card with the big T on it?"  "Who has the card with the word with just two letters."  Later in the year, you might increase to "Today is Monday, January 10, 2017."  I also sometimes ask, "Who has the cards with words?"  "How do we know we are finished with our sentence?"  [might get the answer because the four numbers are there OR because there is a period after the number]
THINK of all the skills children are learning, from putting up the cards left to right, to the use of punctuation.  And it takes a very short time.  And by the way, they don't know what yesterday was except the day they had pizza for lunch.  AND THEY DON'T NEED TO KNOW.
Which reminds me:  In training, we look through the early learning standards for the state, and the kindergarten standards and we can't find anything there that would lead someone to think that they need to teach calendar the old way.

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Joseph Appleton
Dayton VA
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5.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 10:37 AM

Joseph - thank you so much for posting the Lilian Katz article. I hope that everyone takes a moment to read it and share it with their colleagues. At best, please engage in conversation about what the article says and begin to examine and explore other possibilities.  I had the privilege of seeing Lilian give a presentation about two years ago and when she brought up the calendar and described the why, as you so brilliantly stated, I thought most people's head was going to pop off. I felt like I was a three-year-old jumping around in my seat clapping and jumping for joy. I was very alone in sharing my strong emotions.

The why for me is the most important piece in what we do. It is what defines intentional teaching. If we just do things because they have always been done that way then we lose our intentionality and purpose. This leads to practices that are not developmentally appropriate. If you understand child development then you understand why the calendar is not the best option for morning meeting. I also want to say that I agree that the calendar does have its place in the class and can be utilized in various different ways. Thank you for sharing your anecdote. I think as teachers we learn from each other. We are our most important network of supporters and cheerleaders. I started this conversation because I want to start having the conversation about moving forward in our practice and this topic is just one that really gets me.

 

It's funny that you mentioned the house keeping corner.....this might be my next question on the forum!  :)




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Rosalie Witt
Wilton CT
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6.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 10:42 AM
Sandra - thank you for sharing. Though this anecdote made me cringe it is the very reason why I think we need to rethink and revamp this practice. 40 minutes of morning meeting!  I had a student teacher who was working with five year olds. They had been through the program since 3 and every year, every day they did the calendar. My student teacher shared that after three years the students could not tell him what day of the week it was, the month, or even the date. They did not recongize any one element on its own. Only in sequence as it was recited. This is simple not learning. It is memorization. :(

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Rosalie Witt
Wilton CT
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7.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 10:58 AM
Wow!  What a brilliant idea to put calendar in home living area!  This idea brings relevancy to the calendar. Thank you for this amazing alternative for the classroom calendar. Maybe even using an authentic calendar rather than catalog purchased calendar might be good.

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Sandra Duncan,EdD
Co-Author Inspiring Spaces for Young Children and Rethinking the Classroom Landscape
219-743-2923
Sandrdun@aol.com
Schererville IN
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8.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-30-2017 11:32 AM
​So, now I am curious. I have seen beautiful and sensitive responses to the original question from extremely bright educators who have done research on this calendar issue. (and by the way, I know we can find research to back any of our practices) I have also been curriculum specialist who 15 years ago was almost escorted out of this program because I said we would no longer be using the calendar to "teach" any of the concepts that teachers were claiming could only be taught with the calendar- patterns, sequences, days of the week, months, numbers, and on and on. I asked the group to look at their concepts and realize that the pieces that are developmentally appropriate are already in place with cubes that are different sizes, colors,shapes, textures and that is just one manipulative in most classrooms that would be a concrete example.

So, place a calendar in the Dramatic Play area on the refrigerator so children make that connection and save your money to buy appropriate materials or, better yet, use natural materials and stop buying expensive items. Babies teach us what they like when we buy an expensive toy that "teaches" and watch the baby ignore the toy and play with the box, wrapping paper, ribbon and are not interested in the toy.

I truly hope that early childhood professionals will support what many contributors to this question have said about using a calendar with our youngest children. Stop following the crowd and take a stand for your children.

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Carol Rowland
Community Action Project of Tulsa County
Tulsa OK
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9.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 06:58 AM
OMG Rosalie!  I have been in early childhood education for over 40 years and this is one of my pet peeves of all time!  I'm convinced that American educators don't think any child will ever survive unless they drag them through these silly routines every morning, especially since developmentally, children at this age can't understand time and symbolism of the calendar, etc.  I do lots of consulting work and college-level instruction in early childhood and this comes up all the time!  The daily recitation drives me crazy---a friend of mine and I call it "pagan calendar worship"!  The chanting in unison (e.g., "Today is Monday, March 17, 2017") just reminds us of natives worshiping a totem!

Just because children are perhaps reciting this accurately does NOT mean that they understand it or know what to do with that information.  This is one of many non-developmentally appropriate practices that I observe in many early childhood settings, and teachers and parents feel impressed by the children's false positive performance.  Let's band together to change this practice---way too much time is spent on it for nothing!  These children are concrete learners---there will be plenty of time to move into symbolic learning as they get older.   I hope people will finally begin to realize that the content does NOT match the learner's developmental level and cease this time-wasting practice!

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Rick Ellis
Rick Ellis
Bordentown NJ
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10.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 07:36 AM
Developmentally, children are not ready for abstract thought, they live in the here and now and are concrete thinkers.  Concepts such as time are very difficult for young children to grasp.  Group time has tremendous opportunity for learning, and yes children love repetition because that is one of the ways they learn concepts (how many of us in the field have read the same book over and over!), but the calendar is not the best use of creating a environment for learning. Personally I value, song, book reading, and discussion about topics that are relevant to the children in our class.

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Susan Ferguson
Wellesley College
Wellesley MA
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11.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 11:23 AM
I accept your challenge Rick!  We do need to band together. It's the only way. When there is a ground swell and more people are talking then there is a chance. When we just allow it and accept it we may as well just be giving our endorsement of it.

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Rosalie Witt
Wilton CT
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12.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-29-2017 05:24 PM
​Oh, I couldn't agree with you more about calendar chanting being like a ritual! I believe this also rings true for those that believe a child know the alphabet because they can sing a song ... A B C song. While singing the song is a good introduction, it does not teach children to recognize those squiggles and symbols that represent our alphabet letter.

Quite a number of years ago I too decided to limit my calendar time. At first I received some resistance from my colleagues, but upon discussing it with a mentor & former professor, I was encouraged to move forward and past the old calendar days. I talked with my students about making a change in our routine before hand and  then started using a special song to let children know it was time to clean up their choice time materials and gather together for a short Group Meeting. It took a couple weeks to get the children tuned in and used to coming together when the song played, but did work out well after that initial introduction period, especially since it was done at the same point of our daily routine. Using the phrase Group Meeting also seemed to help the children feel like this was their special time for sharing ideas and/or problems that may have come up during another activity or play time. After a several months, I could even use that same song to alert the children we were having a group meeting in the afternoon if we needed to have a discussion about an upcoming change in the routine for the next day.

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Jane P.
AK
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13.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 08:54 AM
This topic is one that I have been contemplating as well. My meeting area is completely stripped and awaiting materials for the fall. The one item that remains is the heart, which is how we determine which of our classmates we need to "keep in our heart" until we see them again.

I am on a new "intentionality" focus, well maybe not so new to me, rather I am examining actions, choices and so on at an especially deeper level. The conversations on this site are very helpful and meaningful to me as I go through this process.

Last year, I was welcomed into a new school. The EC program had a director that was there before was burned out and had become very comfortable in the methods she earned early in her career. Her assistant was then allowed to be in charge, and she too, was stuck in the 70's and 80's. I discovered materials and routines that were archaic and just plain bad for kids. I had to take a deep breath and decide how best to approach the situation with as much grace and tactic possible.

I am approaching my 29th year in the EC field, yet I am not so "old" that I want to do what is comfortable, Eady or even familiar. I will continue to read this thread as I formulate my plan for the fall. Thank you to everyone who has participated thus far and for thank you to Rosalie for presenting this topic for discussion.

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[Sheila] [Anderson]
[Director]
[St. Mary Catholic ]
[Traverse City] [MI
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14.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 09:03 AM
As a consultant, I work to help teachers and school administrators to understand how to conduct more effective large group times. Calendar is not a good use of this time. People just need to understand why. I do webinars about this and it is in my book "Teach the Whole Preschooler: Strategies for Nurturing Developing Minds" which is published by WW Norton. In it, I talk about "circle time" in the chapter about rethinking routines. Please message me if you'd like to learn about this book.


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Cindy Terebush
Early Education Consultant & Speaker
Author of "Teach the Whole Preschooler: Strategies for Nurturing Developing Minds"
Old Bridge NJ
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15.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 12:12 PM
So great that you focus on effective large group times in your book! Joining into the company of Lillian Katz, whose article was posted in this discussion forum.  I have a book that should be coming out next year (still have to see the editing process through) with NAEYC, written by me and co-author Seong Bock Hong, on an approach to learning to plan an implement emergent curriculum.  Within the book we focus a section on the structure of environment, which includes classroom meetings.  We have identified two types of meetings:

  • informal classroom meetings:  song, movement, finger play, and even calendar.
    • I think when used in a developmentally appropriate way, that is not lengthy or beyond children's potential for understanding aspects of thinking about a calendar are OK. Still, using these informal times for developing community and continuity of routine seem to be most important.

  • formal classroom meetings: teachers plan carefully to present ideas from their many observations of thinking that are taking place throughout the classroom. What might be a problem children are posing in a center that would benefit from them sharing with peers to discover a solution? Building a tall tower perhaps? The problems and questions posed can be presented with documentation (evidence) from the classroom, which engages children easily in discussion because it reflects on their work and interests and needs.  Teachers can consider introducing a new material to perhaps provoke new ways of approaching the problem and use the group gathering as a time for children to problem solve ways to incorporate the new materials.  Think of this as a time for small groups to share their work with the whole group. Like we do when we go to conferences and share our work with colleagues. The classroom meeting is like a professional conference in this way. Also, when children are presenting the work of their small group others might gain interest and choose to participate in the work of that classroom center on another day. Of course, all of this is consistent with classrooms where project work is ongoing, so that materials in centers are left out and available for long term exploration and focused work
    • these might occur 2 - 3 times a week in the AM instead of informal meetings or daily in full day programs at another time of day (end of AM for example.

Jane

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Jane Broderick
Professor
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City TN
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16.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 09:50 AM
I work with 2 1/2-year olds, and have for several years. I don't do calendar/weather at group time. We sing a gathering song, a 'who's here today' song, read a story, and finish by using a photo chart to indicate how we feel today. I see the three's on up doing calendar and wonder what the purpose of it is. I get the weather part-it is something we can see and feel and does affect what we do that day, but why the chanting of the days of the month? I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I just wonder why is it important?

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Catherine Roach
Milwaukee WI
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17.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 10:19 AM
I take this discussion as evidence regarding how difficult it is to use information from science to move early childhood education forward. We seem to trust science when we turn on a television, drive a car, fly to a far city, but new science has many skeptics. Education has let us down when it doesn't get a student engaged in scientific method. Science has been wrong many times, that's generally about failures of research design, but it always retests hypotheses when something appears incorrect. One of problems may be that science since Copernicus has been a challenge to religious beliefs. Being new to the early childhood education field, since retiring from licensed psychological practice, I think that I'm noticing another problem with science not strongly influencing things like letting go of common practices like calendar routines. It appears that education departments are strong on researching theories, but weak on scientific--experimental--research. That's a guarantee of being out of date quickly.

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Jack Wright
Success With Children
St. Ignatius MT
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18.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 11:50 AM
Interesting comment re scientific method and studying of practices! There is a great book on "teacher research" by my friend Kathryn Castle, that presents ways that teachers can engage in research in their classrooms for many purposes, including assessing the effectiveness of their practices.

Castle, K. (2012).  Early childhood teacher research: From questions to results.  New York: Rougledge.



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Jane Broderick
Johnson City TN
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19.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 01:51 PM
What is the teacher's expectation for including the calendar?  Hopefully not for mastery, but if it's used as part of active discussion and conversation with the children, I see nothing wrong with it--the days of the week are after all just words and vocabulary is so important. Learning can and should be found in all things, I do believe it's what we as teachers expect the outcomes to be which makes lessons inappropriate.  Calendars, weather ---none of this needs to be painful, tedious or boring--if it is, then let it go.  The conversations we have with the children open the door and provide the children with an introduction to a wide variety of topics---letters, numbers, colors, words, animals, feelings, families... the list is inexhaustible.

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Lorraine Hegarty
Jenkintown PA
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20.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 03:01 PM
Hello Early Childhood Educators!

I understand that the calendar can be overrated in Early Childhood classrooms. There are educators who need to drill the children on what day it is? what month are we in? etc. But with that said the calendar can be used as a Receptive and Expressive unit in the learning environment. I use it as a learning tool in a bilingual classroom where children are spoken to in French and in English. We use the calendar in this manner by asking the children what did they do over the weekend? the children are eager to respond in French and in English the days they have Holistic Body Movement which is every Lundi / Monday. Using a calendar that has removable items makes it fun for children to interact with the numbers,days, months and build their interest in using Expressive and Receptive Language Skills.

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Milagros Vargas-Neu
Edgewater NJ
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21.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 01:52 PM
Thank you, Rosalie for posting this interesting question. I filter questions, as much as possible, thinking how something benefits young children and whether what is being considered was initiated by children or based on observations of children as they go about their day. It seems to me if a child asks the question, "What day is today?", it is an opportunity to engage in a conversation with a child about the days of the week and explore strategies how to determine the response to the question.

Sometimes, I am concerned we have focused so much on what teachers can and should do with young children, rather than supporting teachers to become confident in observing young children, during the day, and thinking about messages the children are communicating  that can inform the design of the learning environment and interactions that respond to the needs of the children as evidenced by observations.

For many years, we spoke about reflective supervision, reflective practice, etc. and may not have found the way to support teachers in learning, internalizing and valuing reflections and thought as they interact with the children.


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Robert Gundling, Ed.D.
President
Sense of Wonder, LLC
Alexandria VA
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22.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 11:07 AM

Robert, thank you for making such an excellent point and one that I was hoping would come up. I believe that we need to give teachers permission to be reflective, to not have it all figured out on day one, and allow them the opportunity to get to know their students, and then build the curriculum around what they have learned about the children in the class. I think this discussion is not just about teachers but also about directors, supervisor, and administrators allowing teachers to take a deep breath and build up to a curriculum that meets the children where they are. I am not convinced this is happening. There is such a focus on standards and benchmarks for school readiness. This is our version of teaching to the test.

The calendar conversation is a small part of a much bigger conversation. I think it needs to start because as our friend Rick Ellis stated, he has seen it for 40 years. 40 years ago, when my mom took me home from the hospital my father snapped a picture of her holding me in her arms....in the front seat. That is how they brought me home from the hospital. I can remember seeing that photo and being beside myself. "Where was the car seat?" I shouted. We laughed and she said that is just what we did back then. Really?  Would anyone even fathom taking a newborn home while being carried in the front seat?  NO!  It seems downright reckless and horrifying. I realize there is a difference between car safety and calendar at school but I hope you get my point. It's time to move forward.

It has been shared that one of the most dangerous words that can ever be said is, "We have always done it this way". Just because the calendar is familiar and has been done for many years does not make it. As educators, when we subscribe to this type of practice, I think we devalue ourselves. Let's be innovative. Think outside that damn box we always talk about!



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Rosalie Witt
Wilton CT
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23.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 11:53 AM
Love your thinking regarding teacher reflection. It aligns with the work I engage in mentoring preservice and inservice preschool teachers in learning to implement emergent curriculum.  I believe this discussion thread was initiated by Rosalie, who states her interest in Reggio inspired curriculum.  Including time for reflective practices is a shortfall in education at all levels and something teachers need to advocate for strongly!

Jane

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Jane Broderick
Johnson City TN
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24.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 05:07 PM
We did away with the calendar in all of our classrooms (except for a few stubborn teachers who have refused to let go) about 5 years ago. We use the question of the day to have a meaningful conversation that's relevant to what the children are studying and interested in to start our day. We do still do the weather, but it's a job children get to choose to do as a part of each days' job chart, and it's labeled 'weatherman' or 'meteorologist' to add in a 'fifty-cent' word.

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Dorothy Fredrick
CPCD
Colorado Springs CO
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25.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 11:20 AM

Hmm...stubborn teachers. What to do? I never made it a choice. Though it may have been regarded as heavy handed I made a statement. We talked it out and made compromises. The calendar was used to keep track of events or visitors to the classroom. It was a part of the classroom but not the focus unless it made sense based on the curriculum. When teachers push passed preconceived ideas, understand the "why", and are given permission to explore the change can happen. It's slow but it happens with continued support, sharing of ideas, talking about the failures, and celebrating the successes. 



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Rosalie Witt
Wilton CT
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26.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-25-2017 05:18 PM

You are so right, Rosalie!  I totally support your opinion and all  your ideas.  Best of luck as you move ahead regardless of some who might disagree!  You've got great ideas for supporting projects and for supporting children in general – just doing what's best for them and their learning.

 

Juanita Springate

Essentials for Greatness Coach

Consultant, Coach, Trainer

E-ma

Phone:  816-809-4752

 






27.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 07:45 AM
Our Head Start agency has discontinued using the calendar and weather for group time. Staff can still use the calendar format to introduce numbers and patterns but that is all it is used for. Discussions about weather occur naturally throughout the day.

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Karen Kimball
Port Huron MI
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28.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 09:04 AM
I think a morning "gathering" routine is important.  It centers the children, provides routine and structure, and helps the teachers take the "pulse" of the group.  Using music and movement in a morning routine is an effective and developmentally appropriate means to do this.  Sing a greeting song together that names and acknowledges each child, do a simple finger play poem that is perhaps appropriate for the season, and then another song with simple repetition and stationary movement that goes from sitting, standing, and back to sitting.  The breathing, stretching, rhythm, and synchronicity prepares the body so the mind can focus.

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Diana Greene
Early Childhood Music & Movement Specialist
President, ECMMA
Sparta NJ
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29.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 09:54 AM
I believe that the reason that teachers still use calendar multi-fold. One of the reasons is becasue of the companies that sell the calendar materials. Like children, teachers are drawn to the pre-made calendars due to the flash associated with them. Another reason is that using calendars is almost a cultural habit. It has been for so long, it's almost as it feels more natural to ece teacher, especially a new one, to use what feels like a staple of a early childhood classroom.

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Michael Ruzza
MRUZZA CONSULTING
MRUZZACONSULTING.WEEBLY.COM
mruzzaconsulting@outlook.com
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30.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 11:14 AM

 

Hi Mike. You are right. It's a business and it's all about demand. I am ready to give them a reason to stop printing the materials!  While they may have a place in the Kindergarten and upper grades (although I could make an argument here too) it has less of a place in early childhood. Someone decided a long time ago that it was a good idea. Maybe it was a business and not even a teacher. Who knows at this point but I believe that when you know better you do better.

The only way to make change is to make some noise!!!!  Get people's attention and start to change the conversation. Years ago, we were seen as glorified babysitter. Now we stand tall and are fighting for our place in the world of education. We want to be paid well and respected for our work. Well let's give them something to respect us for. Let's do things differently and make a statement with students who are better prepared not because of their flashy classroom but because they had teachers who knew better and did better. 



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Rosalie Witt
Wilton CT
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31.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-26-2017 05:48 PM
Another point about calendar: the grid format is very difficult for young children to understand. Here is a test you can do to see if this premise is correct. When you have a month that doesn't start on Sunday put the number one in the correct slot in your calendar, maybe under Wednesday or Thursday or whatever day is the first day of the month. Continue to put the numbers in the correct slot each day. When it is time to begin putting the numbers in the second row ask the children where the next number belongs. You will have many, if not all of the children telling you to put the next number in the empty slot under Sunday in the first row. They will be very confused when you show them that it will run into the numbers already there. You will even find this issue with 5 and 6 year olds. If you have a requirement or strong need to do calendar, consider using a linear format where the calendar is a straight line instead of a grid. A linear format will help children more easily see what comes next and what happened before.  The emphasis should be on what is meaningful to the children like an upcoming birthday or class trip, not the date and the year. Older preschoolers love to count how many days until a meaningful event or to recall an event that already happened.


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S. Schwartz
Flushing NY
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32.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-27-2017 06:35 AM
As a teacher of 2s and 3s, I agree with the other comments saying that reading the calendar is too abstract for young children. What I have found meaningful is making a calendar for special events. For instance, with Winter Break approaching, I will draw the boxes on a large piece of of paper or poster board, 7 across, in 3-4 rows. Working with a small group, I ask the children "What color should we make school days?" and "What color shall we make home days?" I let them color in the boxes accordingly. Their custom calendar is posted in the meeting area, where it invites questions such as "How many school days do we have until we start our long vacation?" "How many homes days will we have?"

A custom calendar is also for helpful for individuals whose mommy is away on a trip, for instance. I will make the calendar with the child. Each day the child can count down the days until mommy comes back. This visual in the classroom can be very reassuring to a child who is missing a parent.

Either a whole-group or individual calendar can be further enhanced by a visual indicator that a day has passed, for instance, drawing a line through a past day, or placing a sticker or other type of marker over it.

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Cynthia Seibels
New York NY
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33.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-27-2017 10:54 PM
This has been an interesting discussion.  I have cut my calendar way back.  I teach 4 year old PreK.  I don't expect them to learn the days of the week or say "Today is ...."  I learned long ago that students had difficulty with "yesterday was ... today is ... tomorrow will be..." so we don't do that either. We never sit more than 5 minutes without doing some movement and the calendar part of my gathering time is usually about 3 - 4 minutes.  I feel strongly that we should not waste students' time with activities that have no meaning for them. However, I haven't eliminated the calendar totally for the following reasons:

1)  I use a "real" calendar, not a fancy one from the teacher store.  I have a large desk calendar that our school photo company gives teachers for free and I tear off the month and put it on my white board.  I like it because the numbers are already on it.
2)  On the calendar, I write the Star of the Day for each day and any special events.  To the right of the calendar, I put the photos of students who have birthdays that month, each holding the number of their birthdate (ex:  25 for May 25) and mark their birthday on the calendar.  I find that the students like to find their name and count the days until their special day or their friend's birthday.
3) We find #1 on the calendar and count up until the new date.  I emphasize looking at the numbers as we count, this helps visual learners begin to recognize numerals.  Then we stand up and do the Hap Palmer Weekly Rap.  I tell them what the day of the week is, showing it on the calendar, then we do the Rap movement the number of times of the date.  (Ex:  Tuesday is tap your shoes day, so if it is Tuesday, May 25, we tap our shoes 25 times).  This gives kinesthetic learners an opportunity to move with the counting.  I find that they notice that the bigger numbers take longer and it is really fun on #1 to quickly get that movement in.
4)  Nobody has mentioned left to right progression which happens when counting on the calendar.  This is a pre-reading skill.
5)  The star of the day writes the numeral next to the printed numeral on the calendar.
6)  We use the name of the month to identify letters and count syllables.

So in one activity, we have identified letters, counted syllables and used left to right progression (literacy), done rote counting, identified and written printed numerals (math), done a rhythmic rap (math, patterns) and incorporated gross motor skills.  Social Emotional skills grow as students identify their special days and the special classroom days.  Intentionality and meaning are key when making decisions about using any activity, including the calendar.




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Julie Bedard
Collinsville IL
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34.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-28-2017 02:29 PM
Hi.  I've worked with 2-5 year olds in different classrooms and the  most useful calendar activity I've found is to have only a weekly grid (7 spots) with the goals of identifying where we are in the weekly cycle (day of the week) and to review our plans for the day (i.e., if we will have music or PE, library or buddies, etc.) so they know what to anticipate.  The grid is labeled with days of the week only.  I then use simple clip art to indicate which days are school days/home days.  Then below that I will post additional, simple, labeled clip art to represent the different plans we may have that particular day.  The first few times in the year I lead the routine but once established (and it always happens quickly) I often ask one of the kids to help explain the calendar to the rest of the class.  They can utilize a pointer as we sing a days-of-the-week song and confirm which day it is and to explain what plans we have for the day.  This routine is quite brief but touches on many early skills that I hope to support in the children's development:  comfort and confidence standing in front of a group; oral language speaking to the group; patterning with days of the week, home days vs. school days; counting with 1:1 correspondence if we talk about how many more days till a home day or how many home days till we see each other again; working memory with picture recognition/representation; and more.  At the end of the school day when we review what we've done and touch on what we'll do the next day, we revisit the calendar.  Did we do ...? How did you feel about ...?  Is tomorrow a school day?  Then sing a closing song which includes the lyrics of "I'll see you another day, on ___day."  When a long weekend is coming or an extended school holiday, I switch out school picture cards with home cards to provide the visual cue.  While I can completely understand why some teachers don't find the calendar as a necessary or helpful part of the circle routine, this has worked well for me.  Best to everyone.

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Meghan Sterling
Sensational Start LLC
Boise ID
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35.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-27-2017 09:07 PM
Thank you for starting this interesting conversation! I have been torn on the use of calendars for some time. Time is such an abstract concept for young children.  I appreciate the ideas for better uses of morning meetings!

One concern I have in calendar use is the physical calendar itself. Using a calendar in which the date number is added each day does not allow the user to look ahead in time. (These are the laminated calendars available through teacher supplies.) Adults and older children use calendars to mark future events or refer back to previous ones. No one writes the dates as they go! How confusing that would be to schedule a dentist appointment :)   Using a regular calendar with all numbers printed seems much more authentic and helps children see the calendar as a measurement tool.  I do use a calendar, but try to keep its use authentic. I print a large 12 month paper calendar (dates included) starting with August each year with all children's birthday's included as well as events other events important to the school. We cross off the days as they happen, pencil in upcoming events, record when we started an experiment, or anything important that comes up that we might want to remember. The children are invited to flip through the calendar and like to see when their birthdays are - that's the most event important, of course!

What I plan on adding to our calendar next year are picture icons representing what always happens on Monday, Tuesday, etc. The children do notice the patterns of events during week so perhaps adding these to the calendar will make this visual tool more meaningful.

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Julie Miller
Lafayette LA
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36.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-28-2017 10:26 PM
I agree that 40 minutes of calendar time is not developmentally appropriate. I also would not recommend it until children are in a four year old group. My calendar had the basic framework. The rest of it was done with the class. The days of the week were printed there. I did not use the numerals from commercial companies. I wrote the numerals on construction paper. I put up the day as each one occurred. So today was June 28th. The "28" would be printed so the children could see me write it.  At the beginning of the year I used a color pattern. 1 was green. 2 was yellow. 3 was green. 4 was yellow. The next day I asked the children what the next color would be and then wrote the numeral. I moved my finger from that numeral to the top where the day of he week was listed. Then I used my other finger to begin with Sunday until we reached the day for today. "Today is Thursday, June 28."
Done is a few minutes. The next month I used a different color two pattern, green, green, yellow  or a completely new three different color pattern. Children were learning patterns. They were counting up to 30 or 31. By the end of the year some children could count to 39 because they had learned the pattern when we get to 9 the next number is the next highest  in the tens. Counting on a calendar is not rote counting. It is forward number word sequence.  These are math standards for number (counting) and algebra (which is patterns and classification for the youngest children).
I did very little with weather until later in the year. We made a graph. Each child had a turn being the weather reporter. They went to the window and reported back if it was sunny, cloudy, or rainy. Then they drew the sun or a cloud or rain drops on a square of paper. Or if it was sunny, or cloudy, or snowy. At the end of the month we had a discussion of which type of weather was the most, etc. I kept the graph and at the end of the following month we compared the two months. We noticed that April had more rainy days and May had more sunny days. This is the science standard of observing and the math standard for data analysis (graphing).

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Marie Kielty
Early Math Consultant
Chicago, IL

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37.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 06-30-2017 07:45 PM
​To me, I would ask what are you trying to accomplish with the calendar activity?  Is there a more meaningful and appropriate way to accomplish that goal?  Are the children really learning what your trying to teach or is it just "rote" like one of the other posters commented?  During my career in ECE I've developed several of what my colleagues called "canned speeches" on several topics and rote learning was one of them.  Its not real learning in that while you are providing the children with the information, it has no context to them and they will not/cannot apply it to other aspects of the environment and their lives.

Breaking the week up for them so that they can look forward to specific events or see the difference in stay home days and at school days can be accomplished in numerous ways, for example a line of blocks that you either add to or remove depending on what you are working on that week/month.  It is always frustrating to me when I have staff say that they are having behavior problems with children and when I observe I see the children sitting on a carpet waiting on a teacher to provide instruction instead of actually participating in a conversation about the topic.  Children that are busy and involved in the activity are far less likely to pose a behavior challenge than ones who are not engaged or bored.

The idea can be extended to all parts of the classroom, if your teachers think its appropriate to have a group sit for 40 minutes and work on a calendar activity, what are the doing with the rest of their time?  Is it actually developmentally appropriate learning/teaching?  Or is it Preschool boot-camp?

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John Krantz
Pensacola FL
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38.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 07-01-2017 09:06 PM
I appreciated this discussion very much. Rote memorization learning has always been a pet peeve of mine. Asking a colleague WHY he/she continues to use a specific routine and getting the reply... well, that's what has always been done... sends me through the roof. Whenever the calendar routine discussion emerges, I like to share a great article that explains so simply WHY calendar concepts are not meaningful to the little people of the world. Hope you enjoy it! https://www.naeyc.org/files/tyc/file/CalendarTime.pdf

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Gina Flynn
4K Professional Educator
St. Robert School
Shorewood, WI
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39.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 07-02-2017 03:32 PM
While I totally agree with you,
I still do the calendar due to the fact that my Pre-k program is part of the district and it is expected. While this is an expectation, I take it as a positive tool, I could do a quick Math concept, today is, so yesterday was, and to morrow is....
While I do not agree with the mandates from the district, I pick and chose my battles. For example, I follow the project Base Approach which totally contradicts what "they" believe, but I am able to articulate the purpose while I also demonstrate that I am doing the basics that are required by them.

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Maria Velarde
Rohnert Park CA
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40.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 07-03-2017 08:49 AM
First a confession. This is the first conversation that motivated me to chime in. I've been a taker - only reading through other discussion boards. But this is a button-pusher topic for me. As I say in many workshop presentations, "Are we raising future meteorologists?" Why are we spending so much time talking about the weather along with the calendar? Once children can identify a sunny day vs. a cloudy day, we need to ask ourselves why repeat that exercise every day?  I agree that children like routine and a predictable order of activities so I'm not suggesting we give up morning meeting time. Let's just change it up a bit. Change happens with baby steps. If we start to downplay the rote conversations around calendar and weather, we can build in more time for language-building conversation that are engaging, interesting, and relevant to children's interests.

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Leslie Silk Eslinger
Education Specialist
Becker's School Supplies
Pennsauken, NJ
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41.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

Posted 07-03-2017 11:30 AM
I think Laslie you right. We have to have intentionality to want every we do in the classroom. Sometimes we are given task that are not always developmental  appropriate but through this walk I have learned to look at what is being asked and what developmental appropriate activities will work for what is being asked. The calendar is one that I like however I can see why it is seen as not being developmental appropriate. At the end of the day what are trying to get the students to learn from calendar and is there a better way to get students the same skill in a developmentally apporiate way? That is when the intentionality comes in to what you want the students to learn. 

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Shalek Chappill
San Jose CA
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