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Toddler Circle time

  • 1.  Toddler Circle time

    Posted 08-27-2019 05:00 AM
    I just recently started working for a childcare chain.  The curriculum is ok but fir toddlers it recommends that they go over the calendar each day. I feel that it is too early for this but it is a requirement. Am I wrong in thinking that toddlers are not developmentally ready to learn the calendar?

    Jacksonville, FL

  • 2.  RE: Toddler Circle time

    Posted 08-27-2019 09:13 PM
    Hello Arlene,
    I was just having this conversation with a colleague of mine yesterday!  I really wanted to see what others had to say. My opinion is that calendar time, as well as a formal circle time are developmentally inappropriate for most toddlers. ITERS 3 requires that older toddlers at circle be allowed to come and go as they please. I use the word, "Circle" very loosely when I say I agree with this.  Children might benefit from socially enjoying a very active song and dance, or a story with puppets and other props. I'm not sure how this type of fun, active, and social circle time would fair when trying to teach calendar time to a group of toddlers. If a teacher uses terminology like today and yesterday in context with children's personal lives, this would be appropriate.  Singing the days of the week song and requiring young children to participate is not appropriate in my opinion. Is your leadership open to teaching about elements of calendar in different and creative ways?  If so, you may be able to meet the requirement in some alternative and looser way.

    Kelly Clark
    Early Achievers Coach
    Everett WA

  • 3.  RE: Toddler Circle time

    Posted 08-28-2019 08:41 AM

    I dont think it is to early, I think you have to tweek the curriculum  to fit there understanding. Dont under estemate the power of  toodlers. 

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  • 4.  RE: Toddler Circle time

    Posted 08-28-2019 09:22 AM
    You don't state specifically what it means to "go over the calendar each day" but I suspect it wouldn't be appropriate for the toddler age group.  Does your state have Early Learning and Development Standards to guide you?  They are statements about what children should know and be able to do during their early years and teachers use them to plan meaningful experiences. That might be a good resource for you to use with your supervisor to have a discussion about whether or not the current curriculum expectation should be altered.

    Kristen Kennen
    Early Childhood Education Specialist
    Danbury, CT

  • 5.  RE: Toddler Circle time

    Posted 08-28-2019 10:12 AM
    I totaly agree. Toddlers are not ready to go over the calendar. It doesn't really mean anything to them since they lack the spatial ability to think long term. What we do at our center is go over the daily schedule. That way they keep time of what will happen next and is much more meaningful to them.
    That is how we take care of the calendar with Toddlers. Hope it helps!

    Cecilia Escalante

  • 6.  RE: Toddler Circle time

    Posted 08-28-2019 11:23 AM
    No, you are not wrong in thinking that "calendar activities" are not DAP for toddlers.  In fact, some think that overemphasis on calendar activities is not a good use of time for any early childhood classroom.

    Eileen Donahue Brittain
    Adjunct On-Line Instructor
    Johns Hopkins Graduate School of Education
    Baltimore, MD

  • 7.  RE: Toddler Circle time

    Posted 08-28-2019 08:52 PM

    Calendar time per se like in Pre-K is not appropriate for toddlers but we incorporate week days and month names in our singing evryday. It is a way they learn new words and when they go to Pre-K - they will be familiar and know the words - which gradually will make sense to them in relation to calendar time. Yes, daily schedule/routine is also very important - infants and toddlers do follow it - what happens when and what comes next - same thing in same way at same time gives them a sense of routine and stability.

    Jagruti Patel
    Patel Family Child Care
    Redlands CA

  • 8.  RE: Toddler Circle time

    Posted 08-29-2019 11:58 AM
    I've read all the post and I agree that calendar time for toddlers in not DAP.  I am becoming more concerned that the field of ECE is slowly being pulled into  formal school activities. I have been in the field for fourteen years, this month and I've just completed a master's in ECE leadership. Some of the course work has  me concerned. I've worked with every age group from birth to five and when working with older toddlers and one-year- old specifically it's about the personal connection between caregiver and child. When sitting on the floor toddler love to come and plop down on the caregivers lap. When children come and sit I'd do a song especially one that incorporates their  name. I learned that you although young children have few words they speak with their eyes and they read the adult by reading the adults eyes.  A toddler would bring me a book, I looked the child in the eyes and say "Do you want me to read the book?" The child would look at me and nod. When I finished the toddler would say, "Aden," and I'd read the book five times because they said "Aden," five times. There is plenty of time for toddlers to learn about time. What we should be doing is using lots and lots of language, pointing out objects especially things that are pertinent to the child: sippy cup, lovey, blankie, doggie etc. Scaffold the learning but please give them time to grow-up.


    Debra Still
    Assistant Teacher
    Kids Korner
    Philadelphia PA

  • 9.  RE: Toddler Circle time

    Posted 08-29-2019 02:17 AM
    I think a very short group time with a short routine; like an interactive song or chant and then a story is appropriate for most toddler groups as long as the expectations are personally appropriate for the children in your group. Never force a child to sit, make the group time very short, and set them up for success. The abstract nature of calendars with toddlers? Maybe simply singing good morning qualifies? I don't even like calendar time for older preschoolers.

    A McDonald
    Bainbridge Is WA

  • 10.  RE: Toddler Circle time

    Posted 08-29-2019 09:24 AM
    Hello Arlene!
    I agree with others in the group that going over the calendar may not be developmentally appropriate for toddlers. Even preschool and pre-K classrooms struggle with the calendar as a daily dose during circle. Here is the link to a NAEYC article that gives optional ways to support children's learning of this concept.
    I would suggest sharing articles like the one above with your Supervisor, if you think (s)he may be open to dialogue. If she were to understand that even preschool and pre-K classrooms need to approach this concept differently, maybe she would agree to some suggestions you might have- like focusing on the daily schedule - as suggested by others on the group.
    If you are forced to do the calendar with the toddlers, maybe you could do it differently. For example, "Today is day number 15 of September - lets jump 15 times/lets touch our chin 30 times, etc. Also, you could focus on the day of the month that an event is happening. For example, there are 17 days left for Jamal's birthday/firefighter visit, etc. Although these may be better options for older age groups, in the event that you are forced to do the calendar, you may want to make this time short, fun and relevant as far as possible, keeping in mind - that at the very least they are not forced to just sit and listen and repeat after you.
    Ideally, sticking to the daily schedule would be best for this age group.
    Good luck working with your Supervisor!

    Puja Mathur
    Training Coordinator
    Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey
    Princeton NJ

  • 11.  RE: Toddler Circle time

    Posted 08-29-2019 09:49 AM
    Arlene, you are correct that going over the calendar each day is inappropriate for toddlers, so good for you for asking the question!  Although I confess that I did "calendar time" with preschoolers decades ago when I was new to teaching young children, I now know how inappropriate it is even with that age.  I'm guessing the curriculum your program is using might be inappropriate in other ways, as well.  Toddlers ARE the curriculum, in a developmentally appropriate program. The curriculum should be very open-ended, play-based, and allow you to follow the lead of the children in terms of what sparks their interest.

    Here is an interesting blog post (with some good references) about calendar time in preschool classrooms:

    I have honestly never heard of it being done in a toddler classroom!

    P.S. I agree with what Kelly wrote, too.  And Kristen's idea of looking at your state standards is a great idea, too.

    Cathy McAuliffe, PhD
    Early Childhood Coordinator
    NorthWest Arkansas Community College
    Bentonville, Arkansas